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July 1, 2010

Opera 10.6, the First Browser that Plays WebM Videos

When Google announced WebM, an open video format based on the VP8 codec, Opera and Firefox were the first browsers that released nightly builds that supported WebM. Google released a Chromium build that integrated WebM a day later.

Opera 10.6 is the first stable version of a browser that lets you play WebM videos. Opera added support for many HTML5 features (geolocation, Web workers, offline storage), has improved JavaScript performance and fixed a thousand bugs since releasing Opera 10.54. The Norwegian company claims that Opera is "the fastest browser on Earth", but I think it's not really important to see which browser is the fastest. Chrome, Safari and Opera are extremely fast, Firefox is still pretty fast, while Internet Explorer continues to improve. It's important to constantly improve a browser, to learn from other browsers, to innovate, to support the latest technologies, without neglecting that a browser has to be fast, usable and secure.

Probably the best source of WebM videos is YouTube. The first thing you need to do is to join the HTML5 experiment. Then you can restrict the YouTube search results to WebM videos, by clicking on "Search options" and selecting "WebM".


Other browsers that include support for WebM videos: Google Chrome 6 Dev Channel and the upcoming Firefox 4 beta.

Even if HTML5 and WebM are important for Google, YouTube takes a pragmatic approach. YouTube says that browsers need to improve the native video support and provide features like robust streaming, content protection, fullscreen video, camera and microphone access. "We're very happy to see such active and enthusiastic discussion about evolving web standards - YouTube is dependent on browser enhancement in order for us to improve the video experience for our users. While HTML5's video support enables us to bring most of the content and features of YouTube to computers and other devices that don't support Flash Player, it does not yet meet all of our needs. Today, Adobe Flash provides the best platform for YouTube's video distribution requirements, which is why our primary video player is built with it," explains YouTube.

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