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Google Announces Removal of Theora Video Codec Support From Desktop Chrome

Google Announces Removal of Theora Video Codec Support From Desktop Chrome

Google Chrome developer Dale Curtis yesterday in Google Groups email claimed that the developers plan to remove the desktop version of Chrome for Theora video codec support.

▲Theora project icon

Theora is a free and open lossy video compression format developed by the Xiph. Org Foundation. The video codec was fully released on November 3, 2008, and is mainly used for online audio and video applications.

According to Dale Curtis, the decision to remove the Theora video codec was made due to its low usage, the fact that support was no longer needed for most users, and the fact that the encoder itself was prone to various errors.

The full list of reasons is below:

  • Theora has a low usage rate
  • There has been a surge in zero-day attacks on media codecs
  • UK usage has fallen below measurable levels
  • Prior to the drop in usage, the Chrome team manually checked a number of sites and found that they were incorrectly choosing Theora over more modern codecs like VP9
  • Safar and Chrome for Android never supported Theora

▲ Image courtesy of an email from Dale Curtis

Dale Curtis claims that developers will still provide ogv.js polyfill for sites that need Theora support and will not remove support for the ogg container.

The developer plans to remove support for Theora on M120 first.

In the meantime, users can reactivate Theora support via chrome://flags/#theora-video-codec.

The specific Chrome version (tentative) schedule is as follows:

  • October 23, 2023: Start of 50/50 canary development experiment.
  • November 1 to November 6, 2023: 50/50 Beta experiments begin.
  • December 6, 2023: 1% stable experiment begins.
  • January 8, 2024: 50% stable experiment begins.
  • January 16, 2024: start at 100%.
  • February 2024: remove code from M123 and chrome://flag
  • March 2024: Chrome 123 will be upgraded to stable


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