Microsoft mocks Google's Web video decision

A satirical Microsoft blog post asserts that H.264 is the lingua franca of digital video and that Google is foolish--at best--for trying to convince the world to move to WebM instead.

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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
A Microsoft evangelist parodied Google's WebM video encoding technology as equivalent to the failed Esperanto language.
The parody likens Google's WebM video codec to the failed Esperanto language. Tim Sneath

A Microsoft evangelist has mocked Google's decision to remove H.264 video support from Chrome, implying that Google is trying to impose an edict on an industry that's already made up its mind to the contrary.

In a blog post, Tim Sneath, who runs Windows and Web evangelism for Microsoft, likens Google's WebM video codec to the utopian but unsuccessful Esperanto language. The blog post rewrites Google's original announcement that the company is removing support for the widely used H.264 codec to advance its own WebM.

Both technologies can be used with the nascent HTML5 standard to embed video directly into Web pages without using a plug-in such as Adobe Systems' Flash Player. But Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 beta and Apple's Safari support H.264, while Opera and Mozilla's Firefox support WebM and the earlier, largely unsuccessful Ogg Theora technology for encoding and decoding video. Sneath wrote:

The Esperanto language was invented last century as a politically neutral language that would foster peace and international understanding...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.

Sneath hyperlinks "Esperanto" references to the WebM Project, "Klingon" to Theora, and "English" to the Wikipedia entry for H.264. (He doesn't attempt to draw any parallels between the difficulties of learning English and the expense of licensing H.264 patents.)

The post is titled "An Open Letter from the President of the United States of Google." And in a tweet, Sneath referred to Google's decision as "despotism."

Clearly, the post is snarky and jocular. But it still can be included as an example of the backlash against Google's H.264 move.

Microsoft is among the patent holders that receives payments when the MPEG LA licenses the H.264 pool of patents, but Microsoft said it pays more to the licensing group for including H.264 support in Windows 7 than it receives in royalty payments from the group.