Internet Explorer 9 Will Support the Open Source VP8 Video Codec

I was watching the Google I/O keynote and was floored by their announcement to release the VP8 codec as royalty-free open-source software. That’s a huge development especially from a huge player like Google. They’ve garnered support from Mozilla & Opera and they’re even discussing converting the whole YouTube archive to the new codec so this is a VERY big deal.

I just found out the Internet Explorer 9 will also support the VP8 codec on machines that have the codec installed. This is equally exciting as it expands IE9’s HTML video support to be consistent with that of other major browser vendors supporting playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 when the VP8 codec has been installed on Windows.

You can read more about the details in the official announcement.

Rey Bango


  1. I think there is a catch there : “IE9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows. ”

    I understand it means: IE (or windows for that matter) will not ship with the codec pre-installed. If the user install it, IE will use it instead of the H.264.

    Or am i missing something?

    • There is no real reason (other than the MPEG-LA greed one) why Microsoft would not include the WebM codec as it is licensed under the BSD.

      Get enough content out there and it will be in by default.

  2. I hope MS will make it easy to install VP8 on a Windows PC. Something like: you open a page with VP8 video [and click to start it], then IE9 offers to install codec and automatically starts playing afterwards. IE is losing customer base to Firefox and Chrome, so MS badly needs to make it better.

    • Yeah it’d be interesting to see how that’s going to happen. I’ll try to get some details about the experience.

  3. I’m not sure this is news at all, since IE9 use Windows Media Foundation, which means that it can support any codec the user has installed.
    Maybe I misunderstood something, otherwise it seems a bit dishonest of Dean to use this as an argument for their strong support of HTML5.

    If they did want to support an open alternative to H.264 they would of course include the codec with the browser.
    While it’s great that IE users will be able to watch VP8 if they install additional software, it’s not that much different from saying that they will be able to watch VP8 if they download a new browser.

    While it might no be as big a deal to download a codec as switching browser, in practice this will mean that the majority will not be able to watch VP8 without upgrading their software which is something I like to generally avoid when developing a site.

    So I will much rather stick with using the Flash Player where the updates is quickly spread with users. That way most users will be able to see VP8 encoded content regardless of what browser they use and what codecs they have installed.
    So in effect it doesn’t matter if IE can support VP8 or not. If they don’t do it by default they might just as well not do it at all.

  4. Too bad IE9 won’t be available on Windows XP, which is still BROADLY deployed at companies where upgrading to Windows 7 is just too costly… I just wish they’d go “all in” with it.

  5. Well… this announcement is nothing exciting:
    Window Media Player already plays anything provided that the codecs are installed on the machine. So this is just a fake announcement because it was already working that way.
    IE should install the codecs itself, or at least do as WMP does, which is transparently download the codecs needed

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