Microsoft and Google are fighting yet another public relations battle, this time over the HTML5 video standards to be used in the next generation of Web browsers.
While Google is usually the company known for humorous pranks, it’s a Microsoft employee who demonstrated his sharp wit in a blog post that compares Google’s backing of the WebM video format to the invention of a brand new language.
Tim Sneath, the head of “Windows and web evangelism for Microsoft,” according to his Twitter profile, wrote a blog post on MSDN.com titled “An Open Letter from the President of the United States of Google.”
The post spoofs Google’s decision to remove H.264 support from Chrome in favor of the WebM video codec, which was announced by Chromium project manager Mike Jazayeri on Tuesday.
Sneath essentially rewrites the Google blog post, replacing “WebM” with “The Esperanto language,” which he says “was invented last century as a politically neutral language that would foster peace and international understanding.” Esperanto, by the way, is an “international auxiliary language” designed to aid communication between people who speak different native languages. It’s also a pretty cool song by The Eagles. (No wait, that’s Desperado).
Sneath doesn’t mention WebM in his blog post, but does provide a hyperlink to the WebM page. The message is fairly clear: Sneath believes Google is forcing a new standard on the Web world instead of simply letting people speak their chosen language. “English,” in Sneath’s post, links to the Wikipedia page on H.264.
Sneath’s entire blog post reads as follows:
The world’s ability to communicate with one another is a key factor in its rapid evolution and economic growth. The Esperanto language was invented last century as a politically neutral language that would foster peace and international understanding. Since the launch, we’ve seen first-hand the benefits of a constructed language:
• A pure form of communication that is unsullied by cultural context;
• Broad adoption by as many as 10,000 speakers
• Independent (yet mostly compatible) dialects that not only bring additional choice for speakers [but] also foster healthy competition and innovation
We expect even more communication between people in the coming year and are therefore focusing our investments in languages that are created based on constructed language principles. To that end, we are changing the spoken and written language of this nation to make it consistent with the form of speech already supported by the Language Creation Society. Specifically, we are supporting the Esperanto and Klingon languages, and will consider adding support for other high-quality constructed languages in the future. Though English plays an important role in speech today, as our goal is to enable open innovation, its further use as a form of communication in this country will be prohibited and our resources directed towards languages that are untainted by real-world usage.
These changes will occur in the next couple months but we are announcing them now to give citizens using other languages an opportunity to translate the libraries of the world into Esperanto.
The latter phrase in Esperanto means “Thank you, you’re welcome.”
Internet Explorer 9, of course, supports the H.264 codec. Sneath’s hyperlinks lead readers to data indicating that two-thirds of Web videos are using H.264, with about another 25% using Flash VP6. However, the data, from Encoding.com, was released before the launch of WebM last May.
But WebM will have a chance with the weight of Google and Chrome behind it. WebM is also supported by Mozilla, Opera and Adobe.
Google’s Jazayeri says WebM has brought “Rapid performance improvements in the video encoder and decoder thanks to contributions from dozens of developers across the community; Broad adoption by browser, tools, and hardware vendors; [and] Independent (yet compatible) implementations that not only bring additional choice for users, publishers, and developers but also foster healthy competition and innovation.”
Chrome’s move from H.264 to WebM “will occur in the next couple months but we are announcing them now to give content publishers and developers using HTML video an opportunity to make any necessary changes to their sites,” he writes. Google wants to focus “its investments in those technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web principles.” Google will also support the Theora video codec “and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future.”
Network World open source blogger Joe Brockmeier, formerly the open SUSE Community Manager for Novell, calls Google’s decision “good news … for open Web proponents,” but “potentially bad news for the majority of the Web, which is going to have to ride out a years-long standards format war. Again.”