Chrome to Deprecate and Remove Support for Theora Video Codec
Chrome, one of the most popular web browsers, has recently announced its plan to deprecate and remove support for the Theora video codec. This decision is primarily driven by emerging security risks associated with Theora, as well as its decreasing usage among users.
Theora, a video codec that was once widely used, has seen a significant decline in its usage over the years. In fact, its usage has fallen below measurable levels in UKM, indicating that it is no longer a preferred choice for most users. Additionally, the sites that still rely on Theora were found to be incorrectly preferring it over more modern codecs like VP9.
It is worth noting that Theora has never been supported by Safari or Chrome on Android. This lack of support from major browsers further highlights the diminishing relevance of Theora in the current web landscape. However, for the sites that still require Theora support, an ogv.js polyfill exists as an alternative solution.
With the plan to escalate experiments turning down Theora support, Chrome aims to gradually phase out its usage. The timeline for this transition is as follows:
- October 23, 2023: Begin 50/50 canary dev experiments
- November 1-6, 2023: Begin 50/50 beta experiments
- December 6, 2023: Begin 1% stable experiments
- January 8, 2024: Begin 50% stable experiments
- January 16th, 2024: Launch at 100%
- February 2024: Remove code and chrome://flag in M123
- March 2024: Chrome 123 will roll to stable
Once the transition is complete, sites that only provide a Theora video source will no longer have video playback in Chrome. This change aligns with the existing lack of support for Theora in Chrome for Android and Safari.
From a security perspective, this decision is considered a positive change. By removing support for a complicated binary parsing and decoding mechanism, Chrome reduces the potential attack surface for zero-day vulnerabilities targeting media codecs.
Regarding Android WebView-based applications, this change does not have any high-risk implications. The Theora codec was never supported on Android or WebView, so there will be no behavior changes or deprecations affecting these applications.
For developers and users who need to debug Theora-related issues, Chrome provides media dev tools and chrome://media-internals for troubleshooting purposes.
As part of the pre-work for this transition, all tests that previously used Theora have been switched to using VP8/VP9 where appropriate. This ensures a smooth transition and compatibility with modern codecs.
While the decision to deprecate and remove support for Theora is expected to have minimal impact on most users, there may be open questions and potential web compatibility or interoperability issues that arise. It is important to address these concerns to ensure a seamless transition for both developers and users.
Overall, Chrome’s decision to deprecate and remove support for the Theora video codec reflects the evolving landscape of web technologies and the need to prioritize security and performance. As the web continues to advance, it is crucial for browsers to adapt and support the most efficient and secure video codecs available.
Chrome Removing Theora Support