March 18, 2013

Google Develops HTML5 DRM for All Chrome OS Devices

Google (News Alert) recently updated the dev channel of Chrome OS to a new version, version 27.0.1438.8, that is applicable to all Chrome OS devices. As with any new update, this build features stability fixes and feature enhancements, but the major improvement added is the addition of preliminary HTML5 DRM. What’s most significant about this is that until now, HTML5 DRM has only been available on ARM-based devices, but since Chrome OS runs on both ARM and x86 machines, this isn’t too surprising.

The DRM, called "Widevine (NewsAlert) Content Decryption Module" by Google, apparently enables Widevine licenses for the playback of HTML5 audio or video content. This was made possible by the latest HTML5 Encrypted Media Extensions (EMEs), which are a set of APIs which control the playback of protected content.

Many are asking, however, what the advantages are of locking HTML5 down with DRM — especially since it’s supposed to be an open technology. Well, the only real benefit is that it will potentially increase the adoption of HTML5 by media companies currently favoring Adobe (NewsAlert) Flash or Microsoft Silverlight.

"This HTML5 new feature is actually not ‘the’ DRM module," explained François Beaufort of Google in a statement. "Big media companies won’t stop asking for encryption to broadcast their videos. We know that. So, in order to have a seamless web experience (I mean no plug-in here), EME has been created to provide a unique way to interact with protected content."

Also recently, Chrome OS was deemed virtually uncrackable at last week’s CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver, Canada. As part of the Google’s Pwnium hacking competition, hackers were given the chance to find faults in Chrome, but the operating system managed to defy all attempts.

Earlier in the year, Google began development on new Chrome OS laptops that feature touchscreen displays, which will apparently be released later this year.


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