Open Web standards have evolved considerably over the years and browser compatibility is better than ever, but one important area where standards are just starting to catch up is support for streaming video. Proprietary browser plugins are used extensively across the web to play video from popular sites. This creates serious lock-in risk and gives proprietary software vendors like Adobe a lot of control over the medium.
Although alternatives such as Microsoft’s Silverlight are beginning to change the game and force Adobe to open up, there still isn’t a viable, vendor-neutral, standards-based alternative that can shift the balance of power over to end-users and tear down some of the walls that limit how video content is experienced on the Web. Mozilla and the Wikimedia Foundation have launched an initiative to help improve the quality of open, standards-based video technology.
Mozilla has given the Wikimedia Foundation a $100,000 grant intended to fund development of the Ogg container format and the Theora and Vorbis media codecs. These open media codecs are thought to be unencumbered by software patents, which means that they can be freely implemented and used without having to pay royalties or licensing fees to patent holders. This differentiates Ogg Theora from many other formats that are widely used today.