Microsoft gives Google Chrome HD video gift

In a rare showing of entente cordial, Microsoft is making the H.264 codec available to Google's Chrome browser.

The search giant recently announced that it would be dropping the ability to play the popular HD video format from its browser due to licensing problems.

But Microsoft's Claudio Caldato wrote in a blog post: "Today, as part of the interoperability bridges work we do on this team, we are making available the Windows Media Player HTML5 Extension for Chrome, which is an extension for Google Chrome to enable Windows 7 customers who use Chrome to continue to play H.264 video."

Last December the Redmond Massive did the same favour for Firefox users.

Windows 7 includes native support for the codec and says that users should be able to use the functionality, regardless of which browser they choose to use.

Apple's OS X operating system also includes the necessary code but it remains to be seen whether the Cupertino company will be quite as altruistic.

But it wasn't all sweetness and light. Microsoft questioned whether Google's chosen WebM platform was quite as free, open and safe-to-use as it makes out. Google has stated that it wants to push WebM as the de facto standard but, without the support of either Microsoft or Apple, neither of which seem to want to touch the technology with a barge-pole, that's not likely to happen any time soon.