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Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?

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Tom Laughlin
Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 3:18:43 pm

Fellow Creative Cow Users

A friend of mine emailed me an article about this hyped WebM codec and this article he is telling me is showing that Adobe Flash will win over H.264 very soon, and HTML 5. Can any one comment on this?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
"Flash and the HTML5 tag"
by John Harding, Software Engineer,

"There's been a lot of discussion lately about whether or not the HTML5 tag is going to replace Flash Player for video distribution on the web. We’ve been excited about the HTML5 effort and tag for quite a while now, and most YouTube videos can now be played via our HTML5 player. This work has shown us that, while the tag is a big step forward for open standards, the Adobe Flash Platform will continue to play a critical role in video distribution.

It's important to understand what a site like YouTube needs from the browser in order to provide a good experience for viewers as well as content creators. We need to do more than just point the browser at a video file like the image tag does - there’s a lot more to it than just retrieving and displaying a video. The tag certainly addresses the basic requirements and is making good progress on meeting others, but the tag does not currently meet all the needs of a site like YouTube:

Standard Video Format
First and foremost, we need all browsers to support a standard video format. Users upload 24 hours of video every minute to YouTube, so it's important to minimize the number of video formats we support. Especially when you consider that for each format, we also provide a variety of sizes (360p, 480p, 720p, 1080p). We have been encoding YouTube videos with the H.264 codec since early 2007, which we use for both Flash Player and mobile devices like the iPhone and Android phones. This let us quickly and easily launch HTML5 playback for most videos on browsers that support H.264, such as Chrome and Safari.

Concerns about patents and licensing have prevented some browsers from supporting H.264; this in turn has prevented the HTML5 spec from requiring support for a standard format. We believe the web needs an open video format option. One that not only helps address the licensing concerns, but is also optimized for the unique attributes of serving video on the web. To that end, we’re excited about the new WebM project. Google is open sourcing and contributing the VP8 codec to the WebM effort. Google, Mozilla, and Opera have all committed to support WebM, and we have already started making YouTube videos available in the WebM format. Adobe has also committed to support VP8, the video codec for WebM, in an upcoming Flash Player release.

Robust video streaming
Closely related to the need for a standard format is the need for an effective and reliable means of delivering the video to the browser. Simply pointing the browser at a URL is not good enough, as that doesn't allow users to easily get to the part of the video they want. As we’ve been expanding into serving full-length movies and live events, it also becomes important to have fine control over buffering and dynamic quality control. Flash Player addresses these needs by letting applications manage the downloading and playback of video via Actionscript in conjunction with either HTTP or the RTMP video streaming protocol. The HTML5 standard itself does not address video streaming protocols, but a number of vendors and organizations are working to improve the experience of delivering video over HTTP. We are beginning to contribute to these efforts and hope to see a single standard emerge.

Content Protection
YouTube doesn't own the videos that you watch - they're owned by their respective creators, who control how those videos are distributed through YouTube. For YouTube Rentals, video owners require us to use secure streaming technology, such as the Flash Platform's RTMPE protocol, to ensure their videos are not redistributed. Without content protection, we would not be able to offer videos like this.

Encapsulation + Embedding
Flash Player's ability to combine application code and resources into a secure, efficient package has been instrumental in allowing YouTube videos to be embedded in other web sites. Web site owners need to ensure that embedded content is not able to access private user information on the containing page, and we need to ensure that our video player logic travels with the video (for features like captions, annotations, and advertising). While HTML5 adds sandboxing and message-passing functionality, Flash is the only mechanism most web sites allow for embedded content from other sites.

Fullscreen Video
HD video begs to be watched in full screen, but that has not historically been possible with pure HTML. While most browsers have a fullscreen mode, they do not allow javascript to initiate it, nor do they allow a small part of the page (such as a video player) to fill the screen. Flash Player provides robust, secure controls for enabling hardware-accelerated fullscreen displays. While WebKit has recently taken some steps forward on fullscreen support, it's not yet sufficient for video usage (particularly the ability to continue displaying content on top of the video).

Camera and Microphone access
Video is not just a one-way medium. Every day, thousands of users record videos directly to YouTube from within their browser using webcams, which would not be possible without Flash technology. Camera access is also needed for features like video chat and live broadcasting - extremely important on mobile phones which practically all have a built-in camera. Flash Player has provided rich camera and microphone access for several years now, while HTML5 is just getting started.

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."

John Harding, Software Engineer,


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Craig Seeman
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 4:14:12 pm

The article ignores market conditions and I believe makes future assumptions based ignoring the development of such technologies.

First of all Flash already supports H.264.

On2VP8 (WebM) may have submarine patents.

On2VP8 is less efficient than H.264 (Jan Ozer and others have done extensive testing) which means lower quality at a given bit rate.

Graphics cards and related hardware does not yet support hardware acceleration which would mean VP8 uses more system resources. I don't think hardware vendors have been motivated to support it and the market penetration of such hardware will take some time. This means WebM will not work well on Mobile devices (ranging from iPhones and iPads to Android based devices). It will also use more CPU resources on laptops and desktops.

H.264 supports hardware acceleration both in Flash and HTML5 (do NOT confuse codecs with the method of delivery). Only recently, Mac GPUs support it though but that certainly gives H.264 another BIG advantage over WebM (VP8)

HTML5 spec is still in development and it will take some time before full interactivity is achieved.

HTML5 with H.264 is currently the only way to deliver video to iOS (iPhone, iPod, iPad). That's a very fast growing market which is attracting web developers and advertisers who want the expanded market. Additionally the number of web views from such devices is much larger than the growing market share of the hardware. People with iOS access the web more often (generate more web hits and advertising views) than the equivalent number of other mobile devices).

IE9 will directly support HTML5 with H.264. iOS does. Safari is actually a very small market share so it's Apple iOS that's the bigger influence. Google Chrome supports it (and probably will support WebM for obvious reasons). FireFox is the big detractor which will support HTML5 put was pushing for Ogg and will likely support WebM.

Personally I think for video playback HTML5 with H.264 will win but it'll take about 2 years.
WebM (VP8) has serious drawback in lack of hardware acceleration, lack of support in iOS, lower quality compared to H.264
Flash has the drawback of lack of support on iOS, a set of eyes the marketing people and advertisers find important.
WebM's (VP8) open source nature is of debatable advantage assuming there is risk of submarine patents.

Currently YouTube and Vimeo support H.264 in Flash and H.264 in HTML5. YouTube reaches iOS. While Google (owns YouTube) could flip the switch as it were, the problem is WebM is too new (browsers don't support it) and they'd loose the entire iOS market.

Both NetFlix and now Hulu are supporting HTML5 H.264 to reach iOS devices. Many major publications and businesses are beginning to move to that in addition to Flash (they're not yet replacing Flash of course) to reach the iOS market.

I think the market will tend to move to a single presentation method that will reach both the widest browser support and mobile devices. It'll take time but I think it'll be HTML5 with H.264. WebM has too long a road ahead of it. Of course all this can change with a major shift though with just a few companies

Again please do NOT confuse Codec with Delivery.
WebM (VP8) is a codec which may work in both Flash and HTML5. As far as delivery it's not working in either yet as far as I know.
H.264 works in both Flash and HTML5. It dominates Flash (fewer are using the older VP6) and due to iOS has the HTML5 market (only Wikipedia uses Ogg as far as I know and they are a minor player when it comes to video). FireFox is the holdout and that's where HTML5 WebM has its shot.

As far as Flash and Streaming (what he calls Camera and Microphone) that's another set of circumstances. This is where HTTP live streaming comes in. Right now streaming requires expensive server licenses from Adobe (Flash Media) or less expensive Wowza (support Flash and other formats). Wowza can, in fact, take a Flash source and stream it both as Flash and HTTP (the source would be H.264 Flash). HTTP live streaming may obviate the need for proprietary licensed streaming servers.
HTTP is how live streaming video is delivered to iOS (it's also key to what Quicktime X is vs Quicktime 7). Livestream, Ustream, JustinTV all deliver their streaming video to iOS . . . as well as desktop and other mobile devices (after all they had to do this given the lack of Flash support only just starting to get implemented in Android OS).

Also part of this play is Apple's new FaceTime which uses H.264 also. Apple is open sourcing the key parts of FaceTime as they had done with WebKit. In the future this may challenge Skype which uses proprietary methods and On2VP7 (On2 developed VP6 used in Flash, VP7 used by Skype and VP8 now part of WebM . . . Google now owns On2 BTW). Apple hopes that FaceTime's live streaming person to person technology with H.264 spreads to other devices.

Connecting the dots is VERY COMPLEX on all this but, in short, I think in the next couple of years HTML5 H.264 will win for video on demand playback. Streaming may take even longer than that but HTTP streaming's potential lower cost could put that in the lead as far as live streaming goes a but further down the line.





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Tom Laughlin
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 4:54:54 pm

Craig, thanks for the response. What are some of the strategies Apple will use to win this war, more specifically, if you were to theorize this outcome. What would lead to the final death of Flash? How do you think Apple can or could do that? Will Flash ever be completely killed off? When are companies going to stop with the good enough and go with great? Will the market dictate that? Especially now that bit-rate and quality is being achieved, and more efficiently..? Would WebM affect people with smaller internet "pipes", or slower laptops and computers, or slower internet?

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Craig Seeman
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 11:20:48 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "What are some of the strategies Apple will use to win this wa"
Several. iOS device market share. Ease of use which fosters increase ad views relative hardware market share. This pushes advertisers and web designers to support HTML5 H.264. It may accelerate the development of interactivity on HTML5. Their purchase of and development of iAd may include advertiser support on that end.

Desktop Apple may not push so hard. It's almost "along for the ride." Safari market share is small. Apple is even now adding hooks for Flash H.264 hardware acceleration so Apple doesn't seem to be hostile (or has become less hostile) in this environment. It doesn't have to lead here though. Microsoft IE9 support of HTML5 H.264 will help. Microsoft motive would be to take back market share from FireFox as well as steer people to their Bing search engine over Google. Of course MS will support both Flash and HTML5 too but I think the market tendency will be for developers to have a one size fits all solution. HTML5 H.264 will work on IE9, Safari (for Mac users) and iOS devices. The lack of Flash support on IOS devices is really going to hurt Adobe.

Google Android OS market is VERY FRACTURED. Flash would only be on the just being released OS 2.2 and because of fractured hardware market, it's mostly up to the providers to push OS updates custom to the hardware and that's going to be (and has been a REAL PROBLEM) for Android. The result is Flash adoption (and performance) is going to be very limited for a long time. Google claims it'll fix the market fracture but it'll take at least a year. Apple's approach is OS uniformity across its devices and significant backwards hardware compatibility. Andoid can't even touch that.

[Tom Laughlin] "What would lead to the final death of Flash?"
There's a few things that have to happen so it will be slow. HTML5 interactivity. Support for DRM to the satisfaction of content providers. My guess we're looking at a 2-4 year range on this.

[Tom Laughlin] "When are companies going to stop with the good enough and go with great?"
When they all move to a fully developed HTML5 (yes a couple of years away for real escalation) and H.264.

H.264 really has VP8 beat so badly nearly every which way that I think it would take a miraculous effort to give that a chance. H.264 works in Flash, Silverlight, Quicktime, HTML5, iOS, Blu-ray video even. Of course different targets will mean different specs but it really does simply things. Add hardware acceleration and that it's a more efficient codec helps.

Yes there's the license issue but MPEG-LA has no intentions of shooting itself in the foot. Too many companies involved for a bad decision like that to happen. There is certainly the submarine patent issue with VP8. Even it it's only a specter, there's not enough motive for anyone to take that risk for something that will take a long time to gain market share (if ever).

[Tom Laughlin] "Will the market dictate that?"
Absolutely. In this case Google/VP8 and Adobe Flash actually aren't big enough to win this. Why do you think Adobe is LIVID over Apple's decision to have no Flash on iOS . . . as well as use it for a development tool to be translated.

The latter step was also important. Apple doesn't want a single tool making the same App for multiple mobile operating systems. Apple wants product differentiation with apps designed to take advantage of Apple specific device features. It's easy to enforce since developers and advertisers (lets not forget that part) can make much larger profits targeting iOS and it's very uniform vs Google's fractured market.

Actually Apple's control of the App store is very shrewd. By keeping out "Adult" content which could easily overrun everything, they've made it safe for kids to buy games and others to buy utilities. But as per Daniel's post about the adult industry, Apple really doesn't block "Adult" content. Their avenue to iOS is the web, and HTML5 and H.264. How's that for brilliant market triangulation.

Back to Flash, I've been talking about Video On Demand and to an extent, interactivity. There's also streaming. I'm still not sure how quickly HTTP will be adopted. It certainly can cut server costs. It may push Wowza into the forefront since since unlike Flash Media Server, it supports both Flash and HTTP. This is certainly going to be another hit against an Adobe market though. While HTTP is the means to stream to iOS and Quicktime X supports it as well. It's not there on Windows yet, unlike HTML5 H.264 which will be there with IE9.

I'm first looking at Apple's introduction of FaceTime (which uses H.264 unlike Skype's VP7) and their decision to open source that technology. Down the road it can be a threat to Skype but it's too early yet to tell who is going to adopt it.

[Tom Laughlin] "Would WebM affect people with smaller internet "pipes", or slower laptops and computers, or slower internet? "
I don't see any future for WebM. At least not yet. The GPU manufacturers nVidia and ATI are NOT jumping on board with hardware acceleration. It's a less efficient codec than H.264 as well. Basically it's going to be a relative poor performer. The only advantages are alleged patent free and it's better than Ogg so Mozilla can support it. Adobe says they'll support it in a future player. Does it then become the Flash/HTML5 codec for FireFox users? My own hunch is you'll see people abandoning FireFox before you'll see the web designers and compressionists moving to WebM. FireFox does support Flash H.264 and it's one reason that may slow the decline of Flash. . . but decline it will given all the other stuff going on with HTML5 as a player. In short, I don't think WebM will affect anyone because I just don't see it going anywhere. Even Google can't force it because they'd be cutting of ad revenue from iOS devices and it could even negatively impact Google search vs Bing search.






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Daniel Low
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 4:47:14 pm

John Harding works for Google.

http://john.harding.name/

Next question...

__________________________________________________________________
Sent from my iPad Nano.


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Tom Laughlin
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 5:18:05 pm

Here is my next question for you and Craig (and everyone else).

Do you agree/disagree with this other article and why?

http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20009244-264.html

"YouTube: Why the Flash era isn't over"
by Stephen Shankland

Google is among the biggest proponents of a collection of Web technologies that reproduce many important features of Adobe Systems' Flash, but it's not yet time for regime change at YouTube.

One of the most important parts of the upcoming HTML5 standard is support for video that can be built directly into Web page without requiring a plug-in such as Flash Player. Other open standards such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for formatting, Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), and Web Open Font Format (WOFF) for typography can mimic Flash features, but Flash's ability to deliver streaming video to multiple browsers is one of the main reasons it's got such a strong incumbent advantage.

"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," said YouTube programmer John Harding in a blog post Tuesday. "Today, Adobe Flash provides the best platform for YouTube's video distribution requirements, which is why our primary video player is built with it."

Google started showing some YouTube videos with HTML5 in January, but the program is still experimental.

Adobe is working hard to keep Flash relevant despite the threat from Web technologies and Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs' disparaging words about Flash. It just began a major push to spread Flash Player to mobile devices, where it's virtually unknown, and Google's Android is the first operating system to be supported.

It's clear there's a tight alliance between Adobe and Google to back Flash, no doubt in part to try to paint Apple's ban of Flash from iPhones to look like a misstep that's bad for users and Web developers.

But it's not all about politics: in YouTube's case, there are real technical reasons for keeping Flash front and center.

What, exactly, is holding HTML5 video back?

At the top of Harding's list is that browser makers haven't settled on a uniform video encoding technology, or codec, for HTML5. Safari, Chrome, and the the IE9 Platform Preview support a codec called H.264, while Mozilla, Opera, and Chrome are getting support for Google's new royalty-free WebM codec. YouTube. "We need all browsers to support a standard video format," Harding said.

WebM has a chance to become that format.

"We are looking for a royalty-free video format for HTML5. WebM seems a good candidate," said Philippe Le Hegaret, who leads work for Web standards including HTML5, CSS, and SVG for the World Wide Web Consortium, in an interview last week. But asked if it's likely to become that standard, given the backing of Mozilla and Google, he said, "If we have agreement from all the parties, yes, but there is more than just Mozilla and Google at the moment."

Playback issues are one problem, but Google has already decided to pay for dual codec support for its own infrastructure. Since 2007, the company stored all videos in the H.264 format, but starting on May 19, when Google announced WebM, the company started storing all high-definition videos with 720p resolution or better with WebM as well. Considering that 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and that the use of high-definition video is growing, that's got to be a big investment.

Video format compatibility is the first on Harding's list, but there are others, too:

• YouTube needs sophisticated controls that let a browser load not just a video page, but a specific time through a video. Also required are controls over buffering--the video data that's sent in advance to a computer to avoid unpleasant pauses in playback--and features for live video and automated adjustments to video quality. HTML5 video lacks all of these, though Google is supporting work to build them in.

• Flash has digital rights management that's necessary for showing "secure" video streams, Harding said. Specifically, Google uses Adobe's RTMPE (Real-Time Messaging Protocol, encrypted) protocol for the YouTube video rental program.

• Embedding YouTube videos on sites besides YouTube isn't possible with HTML5 today while meeting Google's needs to preserve elements such as captions and advertising. In additon, Harding said, "Flash is the only mechanism most Web sites allow for embedded content from other sites."

• HTML5 doesn't support full-screen video yet. There's work under way, but it can't yet match Flash's ability to show things like playback controls on top.

• Flash is required for supporting Webcams and microphones for those recording video from their computers. Again, there's Webcam work under way with HTML, but it's not done yet today much less supported in browsers.

Google has its principles, but the company's strong pragmatic streak is evident at YouTube. Here's an interesting question to ponder: If Apple decides to turn iTunes into some Web-based service for streaming audio and video, will it come to the same conclusions about Flash's necessity?


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Daniel Low
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 7:39:31 pm

Look, Flash is going to be around forever, probably.

Flash is not going to dominate the online video market forever, its days are numbered, almost certainly. Flash is obviously mature and full of features lacking in HTML 5 which is catching up rapidly and has the backing of the very strong and vocal army of 'iDevice' owners.

Adobe has been terribly lazy with Flash, it's way behind the curve and they can;t keep up with new technology.

I remember the days when people said that no other format would ever take over from Windows Media video on the web. Look at where WMV is now, there's more MPEG-1 out there than WMV!

HTML 5 is in a position to excel where Flash fails especially with video. Flash is a CPU and memory hog, HTML 5 in comparison is a skinny supermodel.

WebM, we'll see. Just because Google is behind it does not mean it's good or that it will succeed. Look at the Android market, it's already beginning to fall apart at the seams.

__________________________________________________________________
Sent from my iPad Nano.


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Daniel Low
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 9:42:17 pm

How about something from the most powerful online industry out there:

http://www.conceivablytech.com/1553/business/an-unexpected-apple-ally-porn-...



__________________________________________________________________
Sent from my iPad Nano.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 10:24:33 pm

I saw this too. Given past history with the adult entertainment industry and its impact on media, they are likely the most influential "genre" in the industry.

The adult generate huge amounts of web traffic and huge amounts of money. The consumers will gravitate to whatever is compatible in order to consume. It will influence browsers and now mobile devices purchased by a large number of people.

Hmm, makes be wonder if there really was a deliberate double entendre in the choice of devices names such as iPad and iPod Touch. One might even apply that to the iPhone's new FaceTime.



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Daniel Low
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jun 30, 2010 at 10:46:34 pm

The main Betamax failed was because Sony wouldn't licence its use for the pornographic industry.



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Tom Laughlin
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jul 1, 2010 at 5:36:08 pm

Wow, I never knew that. My dad grew up in the broadcast world and loved (and still sometimes uses!) Betamax. He could get fewer tapes to crap out than on VHS, the tape quality was better, you could get 2-3 entire movies on a Beta, and that is so sad that part of the media determiners who will be in the ring to have a final say, is the adult video market. That's so sad about Beta being beat out that way, owe!

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCP7/Sony EX-3/Mac Quad-Core Intel


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Craig Seeman
Re: Flash and the HTML5 Article, can anyone comment on this!!?
on Jul 1, 2010 at 6:08:48 pm

Ultimately that's the way markets work for better or worse. The demand for VHS was much greater than BetaMax because the adult market drive sales/purchases more so than, let's say for example, Sony movies.

One might ask why didn't both survive just as we have Windows and Macs today. That depends on the market.

We certainly have multiple codecs and multiple delivery methods right now. But we also had both VHS and BetaMax for a time. I think there's an "economy" to simplification and that's one part of why I believe HTML5 H.264 will win.

Businesses that pay for encoding and delivery want to keep costs down. On the other hand they want to cast the widest possible net. Since H.264 fills about every niche I really don't think WebM VP8 has a chance. The "open source" nature only has limited impact IMHO on the decisions vs costs. There's the risk of license fee (which is minimal IMHO with MPEG-LA and most) vs the cost of encoding everything to WebM VP8. To me FireFox is NOT on very strong ground because there are other very popular browser people can jump to.

Flash vs HTML5 is a bit more complex and Flash currently has strong advantages. Those will decrease over time. It already has serious weakness given the growing share of web access from devices that can't play flash or at all or very efficiently if they can.

Note that while BetaMax lost Beta itself had a very long and dominant run in the professional video market. Market bifurcation can happen. Actually it had been that why in the compression/delivery market as well. WMV, Flash, Quicktime catered to somewhat different and sometimes overlapping markets. Over time H.264 changed that . . . again because markets (when costs are involved) tend to simplify.

Silverlight and Flash are extension agnostic when it comes to H.264. both .mp4 and .mov will work. They'll both work in Quicktime too. .f4v is Flash specific but I understand Adobe engineers have said there will be metadata advantages to that at some point. Alas the markets are moving much faster than Adobe is.

I should add now Microsoft Expression Encoder can do H.264 and WMP12 can playback H.264.

NetFlix is using Silverlight (and VC-1/WMV) for its VOD but that hasn't resulted in Silverlight overrunning Flash. Given NetFlix is now aiming for the iOS market (HTML5 H.264) one has to wonder how their encoding/delivery decisions as well.

Basically every step of the way HTML5 H.264 is growing although currently that's forcing many to deliver both Flash and HTML5. Don't you think they'd want to shift to one delivery method to lower costs? Could Flash win that? Maybe but those circumstances are dwindling whereas the circumstances favoring HTML5 are growing. I think IE9 may actually be a big player in this at least as far as VOD (interactivity is another story). Microsoft would love to "force" users away from FireFox and back to IE.



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