The NewTeeVee Guide to Playing WebM Video

It’s been more than two months since Google open sourced its VP8 video codec as part of the new WebM video format, but chances are that you still haven’t seen a single WebM video stream. It’s not that there’s no WebM video out there; YouTube (s GOOG) has started to convert much of its catalog into the new format, and the European video start-up Flumotion just this week streamed a live event in WebM. The problem is rather that most people aren’t able to play WebM on their machines yet.

Luckily, support for WebM is growing, as the codec is finding its way into less experimental versions of some of the most popular web browsers and video players. We decided to compile a handy little list of resources you can use to get your system WebM ready.

How to play WebM in your browser:

  • The latest Firefox 4 beta 2 includes support for WebM video. You can download it from the Firefox Beta site.
  • Opera has been supporting WebM in all of its new releases since release version 10.60. Download it here.
  • Google’s Chrome browser will support WebM with its version 6 beta, which is supposed to be released any day now. Until then, you’ll have to resort to a developer preview release, which can be downloaded through the project’s dev channel.
  • Internet Explorer 9 will play back WebM if you have a codec for the format installed on your machine, but current preview versions of the browser don’t support this yet. Microsoft has said that it may eventually support native WebM playback through IE as well.
  • Safari users are out of luck: Steve Jobs has made it clear that he won’t support WebM.

How to play WebM files downloaded to your hard drive:

How to try out WebM for yourself:

  • One of the easiest ways to experience WebM is YouTube’s HTML5 test. Just go to the HTML5 Testtube page, opt into the HTML5 beta test and then browse through YouTube’s catalog. Videos with ads will continue to play back in YouTube’s Flash player, but a number of other clips will automatically play in the site’s HTML5 video player in WebM. How can you tell? WebM videos will be labeled with “HTML5 WebM” in the player’s status bar. One such example can be found here.
  • Another easy way to play with WebM is converting some of your own videos into the new format, and the Miro Video Converter is just the right tool for the job. Just select WebM as the output format, drag and drop any video on the application, click convert, wait a little while – and you’ll have a file with the .webm extension that you’ll be able to play with VLC or any other software supporting WebM playback.

We’ll update this guide as new apps become available.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: What Does the Future Hold For Browsers? (subscription required)