Microsoft is playing nicely with Google. At least, Microsoft is adding support for two Google-supported, open source video codecs: WebM and VP9.
Both will be included in an upcoming update for the Edge, along with support for the open source Opus audio format. The change will bring more HTML5 video capabilities to the default browser in Windows 10, Winbeta.org is reporting. The version of Edge bundled with the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition update will be the first to include these codecs.
Firefox, Chrome, and Opera users likely use WebM and VP9 every day. YouTube’s HTML5 player, which replaced Flash in recent years on those browsers, plays back WebM video encoded in VP9. Edge and Internet Explorer both work with the HTML5 player, via the proprietary codec H.264 also used in Blu-ray discs. Sites offering video encoded in that codecs must pay royalties to do so. Because WebM is open source, there are no fees for using it.
“Starting with EdgeHTML 14.14291, the open-source WebM container format and the VP9 video and Opus audio codecs are supported in Microsoft Edge,” said a post on the Windows development blog. “These are available to websites that use Media Source Extensions (MSE) to adaptively stream video content.”
The post added that Windows Web Apps, which you can find in the Windows Store, will also support theses codecs. This is because Windows Web Apps are displayed using Edge’s web engine.
Outside of YouTube, there aren’t many major sites that use WebM or VP9 at this point. Microsoft’s move could change that, because now every major web browser but Safari natively supports the open format.
For users, this doesn’t mean much in the short term. But in the long term, it could be a big deal of the online video industry. Imagine if, every time you loaded a JPEG image, the websites hosting the image had to pay the patent holder. That’s the current situation with online video, and technologies like WebM could be the solution.