Well, thank the heavens. It finally happened. Google saved the web.

The Register reports that Google has released the VP8 video codec which it gained last year through its $124M acquisition of web video business, On2.

On2 have been producing video codecs for years. It open sourced VP3 around 2003, if memory serves, which then became the basis for the Theora codec; the preferred choice of the open source community. Theora is a royalty- and patent-free codec that many open source advocates – myself included – have promoted the use of due to its free nature (free as in freedom… but that’s another issue).

However, as Steve Jobs recently hinted that a patent pools was being established to destroy Theora (and ultimately line his pockets further), Google have done just what Microsoft and Apple probably feared. Pulled the rug out.

So, all YouTube video will be re-encoded to use VP8 rather than H.264 (the proprietary codec supported by Apple and Microsoft), and browser builders Mozilla and Opera have already come out in support of it. As has Adobe. And, of course, Chrome will support it too.

And VP8, being open source and royalty-free, can also be supported by Microsoft and Apple. All source code and documentation is available on line, so there really is no excuse not to support it.