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Enable MP4 (H.264 + AAC) HTML5 video in Firefox on Windows XP without Flash

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Ah, well if you're using add-ons that relate to YouTube that could be part of the problem.
A friend to mine is using the latest Firefox 55 on Windows 10, and he told me a while ago that YouTube clips embedded in Facebook pages had stopped working, just producing an error message that no codecs could be found to play them.
Why this should happen was a bit of a mystery for a while, on what should have been a state of the art system.
He was also getting errors shown on two of the items here, the H.264 one and the WebM VP8 one.
To cut a long story short, it tuned out that he had several add-ons installed relating to YouTube.
Running Firefox with add-ons disabled seemed to make no difference to the problem, but when they were all actually uninstalled, everything came good!
Worth a try to see if this has any bearing on your problem, you can always re-install them again (make a note of what they're called before you uninstall!)

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I've noticed that GIF animations don't work in my Facebook newsfeed on Firefox 52 ESR on Windows XP.
They work fine (of course) on Firefox 55 on Windows 10.
On XP I just get a white rectangle where the animation should be in the newsfeed, but if I click on it and it opens up bigger it then plays.
I read somewhere that the Facebook animated GIF player needs the H.265 codec.
Is that so, because if that's the case presumably it can never be made to work in XP.
Do inline GIF animations work for anyone else with this configuration?

Edited by Dave-H
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Hi Dave,

My apologies for the delayed response!

I have serendipitously stumbled upon what should be the solution to your problem!

Some time ago, I noticed that Facebook had the little plugin icon to the left of the location bar, which upon clicking, asked me if I wanted to continue allowing the Shockwave Flash plugin to run on the site.
I thought no, there is no good reason to allow it.  I was very confused as to why they'd even ask, as I was pretty sure that Facebook videos not only were capable of running in the "HTML5" player, but that the Flash player had been completely removed.

So I went on my way for perhaps a week or more without any issue having the Flash player disabled on the site.  I thought "they must have been somehow using it to spy or extract more information from me!"

I then started noticing that "GIFs" were not playing on the site!
They would appear I think as you described, just blank white squares, and I didn't discover they would play no matter how I clicked on them!

Of course "animated GIFs" are rarely implemented as one might expect — as files in Compuserve's venerable, incredibly well-established and well-supported Graphics Interchange Format these days.  On Facebook, Twitter, and Imgur, they are instead implemented as some sort of newer video format, such as H.264.
As you mentioned, it is possible that Facebook has implemented them in H.265, and I couldn't find out if this format is supported by the Flash player (everything that came up in my search were just feature requests!)

In any case, when I re-enabled the Flash plugin, hoping that was all the "animated GIFs" required to work, I was happy to see they did! (likely after refreshing the page)


Anyway, TL;DR: make sure the Shockwave Flash plugin is enabled in your browser (and up-to-date, as it may be using the H.265 format for some reason) and Facebook's "animated GIFs" should work without a problem!

Hope this helps! :)

Edited by ThomasW
Added detail.
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Thanks Thomas, that's a good shout, but unfortunately Flash is enabled on Facebook for me, and always has been, but the GIFs still don't work.
I'm wondering now whether they ever did actually work on Windows XP. :dubbio:
I still think that H.265 is probably the key, it's probably supported natively in Windows 10 but not in XP.

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Hi Dave,

I assume you've done more research into this issue than I have so you're probably right about the H.265 thing.

I just found another "animated GIF" on Facebook and tried it out to prove you wrong but you were right!  It doesn't work!
I seriously could swear that the GIFs worked fine when I had Flash enabled, but now Facebook has changed and is no longer even *asking* to enable Flash.
As I am really quite sure it worked until today, I suspect they've disabled the Flash support as a part of their big update today which copies Twitter in making all the profile pictures and text fields round!

The GOOD news is that if I simply click the "open externally" icon at the bottom left, the actual GIF will open in a new tab!
I'm very happy to see Facebook's GIF feature is using actual GIFs, so I can see them even if I can't see them embedded in the actual page.

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That agrees with my findings, if you click on the source link icon on the GIF it does then open and play fine in a new tab, just not embedded in the Facebook page.
Has to be another XP limitation I think, but probably not worth worrying about. The important thing is that the videos work!

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Hi Dave,

Just posting to report that I'M NOT CRAZY AFTER ALL!!

Or at least I wasn't imagining functional GIPHY GIFs on Facebook in Firefox on Windows XP!

I was just browsing Facebook, saw a GIF and it didn't work, as I expected, so I clicked the "open externally" icon and it was fine.

I then saw the plugin icon to the left of the location bar, between the globe and padlock icons, so I clicked on it, then clicked the "continue allowing" option.

I scrolled back up to the GIF, clicked on it, and it worked again!  In-line, on the page, just like before!

It's strange how it seems intermittent, but I think this confirms once again that H.265 or not, GIPHY animated GIFs on Facebook do in fact work properly with the Flash plugin! (Sometimes)

Since you haven't had success, I haven't any ideas other than updating and ensuring it's enabled in all ways (I'm using the latest Shockwave Flash version on the latest Firefox ESR 52.3 on Windows XP SP3)


Best of luck everyone!!

Edited by ThomasW
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Thanks Thomas, that's good news!
My configuration is exactly the same as yours, so it should work for me too.
The next time I find a non-functional animated GIF in my Facebook newsfeed, I'll check that plugin icon!
Cheers, Dave.

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Thanx for this.  I actually created an account here, just to say a large "THANK YOU A LOT!" to MIXIT and other for posting this.   I have spent many, many *hours*  (an all nighter, actually, I must confess), trying to get a video I posted to my own website to actually render on my Firefox on my WinXP/SP3 box.   The video renders successfully on my iPad, my Android tablets, and even my old Blackberry Playbooks - and it renders FINE in Chrome.  But I could not get it to render on Firefox 47.0.1 at all, which I am running under WinXP/SP3.  The detailed steps published in this thread let it work.  Whoo hoo.  

If curious, the video in question is an old Max Fleischer "Talkartoon" from 1932, called "The Robot".  It's a charming example of early American anime, and speaks to what robotics and AI *should* aim to be, IMHO.   When I tried to render in Firefox, it would *not* fall back to Flash, despite the latest Flash plugin being installed.  Instead, it just failed with "No video with supported format and MIME type found."  The suggestions and instructions were detailed and helpful.   On the Youtube HTML5 test page, I get checkmarks in all the boxes now, for all video types.    https://www<dot>youtube<dot>com/html5

And www<dot>quirksmode<dot>org / html5 / tests / video.html  of "Big Buck Bunny" now renders in all  three formats.  Thanx again..!

Oh, my test video about the benefits of AI and robotics (circa 1932) is at:   http://www.gemesyscanada.com/436569420


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  • 2 weeks later...

Greetings. I have tried to fix this problem with H264, and nothing works. I have FF 47.0.2 with Shockwave flash 18.0 r0, running under WinXP SP2. Couple of years ago H264 files stopped playing in the FF (with «unsupported MIME type» error), but I can always download the file and play it locally. Youtube played everything well, although switching to HTML5 player made it slower. YT's HTML5 test page showed, that I was able to play everything, except "H.264" and "MSE & H.264".

Things got worse 2 months ago, when I noticed that live streaming on YT is not working anymore. Then, new videos are not necessary playing. And now, some older videos are also not playable (but they were in the days of a flash player). Can I switch back to flash player on YT? They seem to quit supporting it altogether, even for embedded codes (it worked for some time).

Now, I followed every step in this manual, adding all those config lines and installing Primetime CDM 17 properly (so it's visible and «always active»). HTML5 page is now showing all 6 blue ticks, even for 264, but 264 videos are not playing, there is just an everwaiting spinner. Live streams upon loading are showing a small "JavaScript Application" window with "Error: videoFormats is null" message and OK button. Video stats showing that "mp4a" format is problematic, as VP9, Opus and OGG-Theora are playable as before. MP4 videos from other sources are not playable in FF as well.

Is there anything else I can do? Maybe, some debug info would help, if only I knew where to look.

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I'm not sure what's going on in your case, but there are unfortunate cases of Primetime failing to work no matter what. I don't think I've ever seen them fully spelled out by Mozilla, but I've seen mentions of AMD chips and non-SSE2 Intel chips causing problems. In any case, these problems were widespread enough to hold Mozilla back from ever officially supporting Primetime on XP.

Then again, these problems would supposedly be more likely to manifest as plugin crashes than simply not playing media. So, in addition to what @dencorso already suggested (to hopefully free him from having to keep mentioning it, I've now added a case sensitivity note to the opening post :) ), you may want to try the whole thing out from scratch with a new clean Firefox profile, and if that changes nothing, why not a newer browser version, unless you have specific reasons for sticking with 47.0.2. You may also want to disable all your other plugins while you're testing. In a new clean profile they're all enabled by default , so make sure you turn them off before you try out any sites.

Edited by mixit
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FF 52.1.1, Windows XP SP3.

Several months ago I followed the 1st post instructions, and all worked great. But today many youtube videos don't work ("If playback doesn't begin shortly, try restarting your device", and rotating endlessly). http://www.bbc.co.uk/html5 works in both modes. https://www.youtube.com/html5 display all blue checks. However, https://www.quirksmode.org/html5/tests/video.html does not display the H.264/MP4. Restarting FF or computer, cleaning cache and cookies don't help.

Some videos still work.

An example of working ones:

An example of not working ones (In Chrome all works OK):


Edited by yun
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