Microsoft is making available an extension for Google’s Chrome web browser which enables the H.264 video codec in HTML5.
Google had previously announced that it would remove H.264 support, citing the ‘non free’ nature of the popular video format and reaffirming the search giant’s backing for the WebM or VP8 video format which Google made freely available.
"Today, as part of the interoperability bridges work we do on this team, we are making available the Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome, which is an extension for Google Chrome to enable Windows 7 customers who use Chrome to continue to play H.264 video," said Microsoft program manager Claudio Caldato.
The same group had previously released an add-on for Firefox which likewise allows H.264 video playback.
Microsoft said they would not provide support for the WebM video format in the upcoming IE9, citing "liability and risk relating to the intellectual property issues."
H.264 intellectual property is managed by the MPEG LA patent pool of which Microsoft is a member. Google freely and irrevocably released the WebM/VP8 standard but this is no guarantee that holders of video encoding patents will not come after WebM, something Microsoft cites as a barrier for adoption of webM in IE9.
Microsoft made similar claims relating to the Android operating system, arguing that smartphone makers should turn to Windows Mobile instead of the open source Android because the software giant would underwrite any intellectual property costs.