Native Ogg Vorbis and Theora support added for Firefox 3.1

The latest Shiretoko (Firefox 3.1 development codename) nightly comes with an expected and very welcomed feature: support for the HTML5 specification <audio> and <video> tags that will allow web developers to easily (<video src=”myfile.ogg”></video>) add rich content without the need of proprietary plugins.

While the support for the <video> tag is pretty codec-neutral (you can use whatever video format you want provided you have the correct codec), Mozilla’s implementation makes it even easier by bundling Ogg Theora and Vorbis codecs ensuring developers a format to deliver.

However, there is a risk to bundling even an open source codec like Theora because of the possibility of submarine patents -patents nobody knows about until a product that unknowingly infringes it, succeeds, becoming a target for the patent owner who will seek monetary compensation and a good licensing agreement. This is why the HTML 5 spec doesn’t recommend any encoder so vendors don’t have to choose between taking this kind of risk or not complying with the standard.

During today’s announcement at the Products and Technology Roadmap Mozilla Summit session, Mitchell Baker commented that Mozilla would be a bad target as it is a project with a product a lot of people cares about.

Mike Shaver, interim Mozilla’s VP of Engineering, also commented “Somebody had to do it. It’s good it was us”.

Chris Double, the developer responsible in great part for this implementation that has taken more than a year, has set a test page with a few videos (including the insanely cool SVG+video demo), and also pointed to Wikimedia for more relevant videos. Due to Wikimedia browser capabilities detecting script, you will have to disable the QuickTime and Java plugins to actually use the <video> tags (Tools/Add-ons/Plugins).

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