A couple weeks back, Google announced that future versions of its Chrome browser would no longer support the H.264 video codec, causing quite a stir among developers and video content producers. The move left Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 and Apple's Safari browsers as the only ones to support the video standard and a lot of people were upset about this.
Today, Microsoft has fired back, releasing a Chrome browser extension that re-adds H.264 support to the Chrome browser.
When we took a look at this issue last month, blip.tv CTO and co-founder told us that the move was not only a regression in terms of open Web standards, but that "Chrome users will suffer from a worse user experience because they will need to rely on Flash fallback."
Michael Critz, freelance interactive and motion graphic designer, argued that from the content creation point-of-view, there was no equivalent to H.264 and that he would continue using it regardless.
With the release of this Chrome extension, neither have to worry any more - at least theoretically. The extension scans pages for <video> tags and replaces them with a call to the Windows Media Player plug-in if it references a video format supported by the player. The video playing or not playing, however, was never really the issue. With most any video encoded in H.264, if it ran across an incompatible browser, the video was played using Flash instead.
Beyond that, will anyone, really, go out and download an H.264 Chrome extension? Especially if the only difference they notice is that it is playing using Flash instead?
While we're sure there will be some people who go out and grab the extension, surely most will go about their day none the wiser. Now, it's only a matter of time until Google goes and builds an Internet Explorer extension for WebM, right?