There has been a good deal of buzz lately about HTML5 and how it is quickly replacing Adobe Flash. One of the strongest indicators of the progress of this initiative is when YouTube (News - Alert) abruptly removed the option for users to toggle between Flash and HTML5 for video playback, which was available for years.
When HTML5 was first rising into popularity YouTube offered a version of its player built on the technology referred to as HTML5 Beta, available at the URL http://www.youtube.com/html5. Now it is simply referred to as the HTML5 Video Player and that page only displays what features are supported by the user’s browser along with the message “Many YouTube videos will play using HTML5 in supported browsers. You can request that the HTML5 player be used if your browser doesn't use it by default.”
A Firefox plug-in called YouTube Flash Video Player offers an easy workaround, providing an option to override YouTube’s settings and play videos with the user’s choice of technology. The plug-in can be configured to a certain setting once and then left alone, affecting all playback in the future, or can exist as a small icon in the browser that allows quick toggling between the two options.
The process for Chrome browser users is a bit more complicated and requires a User-Agent Switcher plug-in, but it is still possible for users to override YouTube’s intentions if they wish to play videos with Flash. This same technique can be used with Internet Explorer, Opera and even Firefox if an alternative method is desired.
Because Flash is still on its last legs YouTube videos will still switch to it if deemed necessary due to specific circumstances, but as it is phased out these occurrences will become less common. Users can see which technology is being employed at any given moment just by right-clicking on a playing video any where on the site.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi