google open sourcing vp8 codec

Interesting but perhaps not surprising news that Google will make the VP8 video codec open source. You can read in more detail by following the link but here’s a quick rundown: Many companies have decided to support H.264 for video streaming, including Google, Apple and Microsoft. Others, like Mozilla (the creator of Firefox), have not, as they are concerned about adopting, as a standard, proprietary technology that may one day require payment of royalties. Instead, they have chosen to support Ogg Theora, an open source codec based on a much earlier version of VP8. Making VP8 open source will remove this divide and will likely encourage the adoption of VP8 as a standard in place of either, as VP8 appears to be technically superior to both H.264 and Ogg Theora (which was developed from a much earlier iteration of VP8) and presumably would be free of potential licensing issues (and fees) associated with proprietary solutions such as H.264.

Perhaps not surprising given Google’s approach in mobile (i.e. the Android open source platform). Though it is worth noting that Google isn’t enchanted with all things open source, as evidenced by the hubbub about it and the Affero GPL a few years ago…

google announces new browser

Most of you probably already have heard that Google has officially announced its new browser, Chrome, which will be released to the public (in beta form) later today. It is an open source project that has a very, very interesting set of features that enhance security, privacy, speed and stability, including  multiprocessing architecture.

You can read more about the features in the comic that Google has published to walk you through it. What a great approach. Wikipedia also has a bit of a compressed summary of the new features as well, which is a bit quicker to get through than the comic.

Will be very interesting to see how this browser does. I imagine it likely will be quite good, given most of the stuff that Google has offered. That being said, I was a bit concerned as to what this meant for Mozilla, whose existence (or at least revenue) I understand depends significantly on its relationship with Google, which is now, effectively, a competitor of sorts. Mozilla’s CEO has already posted his reactions to Chrome. Whether or not it turns out to be a good thing or bad thing remains to be seen – there are already a few folks who have alluded to the possibility of a Google “monopoly” and/or anti-competitive behaviour through Chrome. IMHO I think that’s rather unlikely.

At the end of the day, though, I think this will only serve to enhance the choices people have, browser wise, and improve things all around. Though I’m hoping it will not lead to the demise of Mozilla. I like Mozilla. And of course Firefox.

Update: Alas several hours later no Chrome love for yours truly. If you haven’t given it a shot by all means do so and let me know if you get through. I imagine that’s what happen when a billion or so people try to download the same thing, notwithstanding Google’s massive pipes and data centres. (see below) Also, saw a great story in The Register, that poked a bit of fun at Google. A little sample that, coincidentally, fits right in with the law-related theme of this blog:

Further update: Seems I had a bad link. Tried again (googled) and was able to download from a different URL. Very easily, actually. But, alas, apparently need to close the browser I’m using to install…

Further further update: Installed and running. So far, so good. Rather bare bones but impressive memory footprint, and very snappy, both on launch and, well, pretty well everything else. A very simple and straightforward approach that doesn’t have a million options, choices and tweaks, or nifty integrations (a la Flock). Miss my plugins though. And not surprising there don’t appear to be any for Chrome right now, at least AFAIK.

Another update: Works well but does not play well with Facebook – some links/features just don’t work.

mozilla prism

Prism is a very interesting little development that the Mozilla folks are working on. Don’t recall where I read about it – probably slashdot. The nub:

Prism is an application that lets users split web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop.

With an illustration that neatly captures the reason for the name and functionality:

I haven’t yet tried it myself but find the concept of further blurring the distinction between the network or server and the local machine quite intriguing.