Linked by Preston5 on Sat 27th Mar 2010 11:46 UTC
Multimedia, AV In January, we had read the various arguments regarding Mozilla's decision not to get an H.264 license. This has generated a lot of discussion about the future of video on the web. With Youtube, Dailymotion, Hulu and Vimeo having adopted H.264 for HD video, Mozilla and Opera should use the codecs installed on a user's system to determine what the browser can play, rather than force other vendors to adopt Ogg. Refusing to support a superior codec would be a disservice to your users in years to come. Why hold back the majority of your users because 2% of your users are on niche OSes?
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J. M.
Member since:
2005-07-24

This is a very common confusion. It all boils down to understanding the difference between a format and a software product. x264 is not a version of anything, it is a software product. BTW, it is not an encoder and decoder, it is only an encoder (in free software, decoding is done via the FFmpeg H.264 decoder). While the term "codec" means "enCODer/DECoder", that is, a software or hardware product that encodes/decodes data (to/from some format). Which also explains why H.264 is not a codec, even though it is often erroneously referred to as a codec. H.264 by itself does not encode/decode video, it only describes how to make (software or hardware) implementations that actually do the job. In other words, it is a specification, a format. (Theora is a video format, too, and libtheora is the reference software implementation.)

As for DivX/Xvid vs. MPEG-4 - firstly, MPEG-4 is not a specific format, it is the whole standard that contains many parts and individual formats for audio (AAC), video (SP/ASP, AVC...), container (MP4) and other things. Like Part 10, Advanced Video Coding (AVC), which is technically the same thing as H.264, and Part 2, Advanced Simple Profile (ASP), which is an older, less efficient video format used by many previous-generation codecs like Xvid, DivX Pro Codec, 3ivx, FFmpeg MPEG-4 etc. Which means they all use the same video format (MPEG-4 ASP). That's also why they're compatible (in other words - video encoded with the Xvid codec is not "Xvid video", you don't encode "to Xvid", you don't create "Xvid files" or "play Xvid", your player does not support "the Xvid format" etc.) The DivX codec is "legal", as it is a commercial, proprietary product made by DivX, Inc., and the DivX company has paid the MPEG-4 license. But open-source MPEG-4 ASP codecs like Xvid or FFmpeg MPEG-4 may not be legal to use in countries where the patents apply.

Edited 2010-03-28 02:33 UTC

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