Ready for HTML5 video?

by mqholt on July 9, 2012

This isn’t a post about the best way to put video on a web site. (I’ll write another post about that, I currently use JavaScript and put up a Flash video plus an H.264 mp4.) This post is simply about how well the <video> tag works in most current browsers,

It should work great in all browsers now, as they all claim to provide support. The code I am going to use is simply:

<video width=”960″ height=”540″ controls>

<source src=”video/salmon.mp4″ />

<source src=”video/salmon.ogg” />

Your browser does not support the video tag.


The test page is

You might wonder why there are two videos, an “mp4” and an “ogg”. One answer: Firefox. Currently by far the most used format for HTML5 videos is H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. However, some browser makers, most notably Mozilla, have argued that H.264 contains patents that the patent holders may someday require licensing fees for. This may or may not be true. MPEG LA, the organization which administers the pool of patents (and which has a funny name, because it’s not associated with the Motion Picture Experts Group nor is it located in Los Angeles), says that it will never charge fees for free videos on the Internet. But I’m off topic.

As of today, Firefox 13, the current version, does not support H.264. Mozilla announced in March this year that they would start providing support for it, but it hasn’t happened yet.  So if you want to be seen by Firefox users (who don’t use an add-on, and many Firefox users now disable all their add-ons) you have to include a different format, like ogg.

So how well does the code work? Good news, it works in all current browsers. Test it yourself. (If you are going to use it, be sure to put the mp4 version first in the list. iOS doesn’t like it otherwise.)

So why not use it for all online video? Because not everyone uses up to date browsers. The majority of users who will not see HTML5 video are using older versions of Internet Explorer. IE9 has full support, but no previous versions did. So if you’re using an old IE, get yourself Windows 7 and IE9.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacob J. July 11, 2012 at 6:34 am

So are you saying that you don’t think it’s needed to use Flash anymore to reach all online video users?

Michael Holt July 11, 2012 at 6:50 am

Jacob, I’m not quite saying that. According to StatCounter, about 13% of all web users still use IE8. Another 1% still have IE7. And of course there are a number of other older browsers still in use that don’t support the

Frankie July 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Great post. Thanks for the info. My favorite part was the bit about the pool of patents.

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