The Xiph.org Foundation announced the release of Theora 1.0, the open source, royalty free, lossy video encoding format.
As a free video format, Mozilla and Opera have both announced that next releases of Firefox and Opera will support it out of the box. Firefox 3.1 beta 1, released a few weeks ago already include a Theora decoder and can be used to watch video in a handful of sites including Wikipedia and TinyVid.tv.
The Theora 1.0 package includes a reference library using the revised 3-clause BSD license, allowing use in all software, free or proprietary. The reference library uses a new decoder which supports the entire Theora specification and is significantly faster than earlier versions. This high-performance decoder is already used on the XO laptop from the OLPC project.
The package also supplies numerous resources for developers: a 190 page format specification, API documentation, example encoder and decoder software, and a draft RTP specification for real-time streaming.
Theora development does not stop with the 1.0 release. With sponsorship from Red Hat Inc., Xiph.Org has been working on a next-generation encoder, codenamed ‘Thusnelda’, which has already demonstrated substantial quality improvements without breaking backward compatibility. While Theora is already the preferred format for applications where freedom, CPU consumption, and cost are important, Thusnelda will make Theora more attractive for applications where quality and bit-rate are the only considerations. The new encoder is slated for inclusion in the upcoming 1.1 release of Theora.
Check out the Wikipedia entry for Theora to learn more about it and its interesting origins as a proprietary format.