Video on the Web: Browser Support

While researching the plug-ins piece of this series a problem with browser support became very obvious. My original intention was to test the websites with multiple browsers and report any differences, but quickly determined that my plan wasn't going to work. The sad fact was that Firefox (and presumeably Mozilla as well) was the only one to use the plug-ins properly.

Even though Opera and Konqueror can detect and use Mozilla compatible plug-ins, the end results were dramatically different. As an Opera user I was forced to admit that it does horribly with multimedia. Konqueror wasn't as good as Firefox, but it did much better than Opera.

Flash is a disaster with sites only occasionally working. I frequently had to close and then restart the browser for content to appear. Useability with Flash in Opera is also worse than in Firefox. In Firefox if you see a control all you have to do is move your mouse to it and click. With Opera you have to first click the Flash area to activate it and then click the appropriate control. While it sounds like a simple issue, the additional click quickly becomes maddening.

I remember reading that the Opera team is working on their own Flash plug-in to include by default and to that I can only say: Hurry up!. In most other areas I love Opera, but this one is becoming very frustrating.

And while Flash is the most impactful plug-in, it's not the only one with issues. VLC flat out doesn't work and MPlayer performed about the same as Flash.

With plug-in based content becoming intertwined with many sites, it's no longer enough to have great HTML compatibility. Getting plug-ins to function properly is critical to a browser's success.