mixit

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

123 posts in this topic

TL;DR, there's now an easy way to enable MP4 (H.264 + AAC) HTML5 video support in Firefox on Windows XP using the Primetime Content Decryption Module plugin by Adobe (distributed by Mozilla). Meaning, you could get rid of Flash (with some caveats). The irony of course being that you'd have to use another thing by Adobe :wacko:, but at least it's something not as prone to security problems.

IMPORTANT: If you're here because MP4 video has stopped working after you upgraded to Firefox 52.0, see this post. If you still have problems, make sure you have all of the required preferences listed below and their values are set correctly. (EDIT March 6, 2017)

If you're here because MP4 video has stopped working after you upgraded to Firefox 49.0 or higher, that happens because 49.0 introduces a new pair of preferences. You now need to set media.gmp-eme-adobe.visible and media.gmp-eme-adobe.forceSupported to truemedia.gmp-eme-adobe.forcevisible is no longer used. Toggle the Primetime plugin to Never Activate and back or restart Firefox for the pref change to take effect. (EDIT September 7, 2016)

NEWS July 26, 2016: Unfortunately, but maybe not all that surprisingly: Primetime CDM will not be getting official support on Windows XP after all. Says a Mozilla developer:
Quote
The Adobe CDM doesn't work for EME on WinXP, and we were trying to get it working for unencrypted decoding of MP4/H.264/AAC files on WinXP, but it has a bug that causes it to crash on some systems. So we turned unencrypted decoding via the Adobe GMP off. Adobe have decided that they aren't going to support WinXP furthermore, so they're not going to be fixing that bug. We don't want to use unsupported decoder for unencrypted decoding.
Not to worry though, this does not appear to have any near/medium-term (at least <=FF51) effect on forcing the plugin to work with the same workarounds we've been using all this time. However, just in case Adobe compiles some XP-incompatible Windows APIs into future plugin updates, you may want to save a copy of the gmp-eme-adobe folder from your FF profile or download the v.17 distribution package. ( @sdfox7has kindly archived a copy.)

Technically, this plugin has been added to FF for DRMed HTML5 video, but it can be used to play non-DRM as well. It's not officially supported on XP, but hey, neither is XP itself, right? ;) I've been trying it out with FF 46 (later also confirmed with 45, 52 ESR and 47-52) on XP Pro SP3 x86 (with POSReady updates, though I doubt that matters any) for about a week now, and the experience has been pretty encouraging. The vast majority of HTML5 videos have worked without a hitch; ~5% have had 1-2 temporary freezes (the video stops, the audio continues with some crackle), which can be easily worked around by moving the video position slider back a bit and then forward again to where the freeze happened. I've seen only one (1) case of a show-stopper error message about "corruption or unsupported features in video" (quote not verbatim) that couldn't be worked around by jiggling the slider (not a crash, just an error message and the video stopped). You may not necessarily be as lucky, though, as the reason the plugin is not included by default by Mozilla is its reported crashing on some high profile sites.

(If you're interested in getting this to work on Windows 2000, be sure to read @blackwingcat's post below in addition to this one, and why not his blog posts (1, 2) as well (in Japanese, but with screen shot images).)

The way to force the installation and operation of Primetime CDM is to add/set the following preferences in about:config :

media.gmp-eme-adobe.enabled (boolean, true)

media.gmp-eme-adobe.forceSupported (boolean, true; FF 49.0+)

media.gmp-eme-adobe.forcevisible (boolean, true; FF 45-48, no longer used in 49.0+)

media.gmp-eme-adobe.visible (boolean, true; FF 49.0+)

media.gmp.decoder.enabled (boolean, true)

media.eme.enabled (boolean, true; defaults to false if you downloaded a DRM-free version of FF; thanks @heinoganda for pointing this out)

45.x.x ESR users: also change media.gmp-manager.url or the Primetime plugin won't get downloaded for you. The default value is "https://aus5.mozilla.org/update/3/GMP/%VERSION%/%BUILD_ID%/%BUILD_TARGET%/%LOCALE%/%CHANNEL%/%OS_VERSION%/%DISTRIBUTION%/%DISTRIBUTION_VERSION%/update.xml", change only the bolded portion as follows: "https://aus5.mozilla.org/update/3/GMP/46.0/%BUILD_ID%/%BUILD_TARGET%/%LOCALE%/%CHANNEL%/%OS_VERSION%/%DISTRIBUTION%/%DISTRIBUTION_VERSION%/update.xml". The host in your default may be something other than aus5.mozilla.org, you only need to change the %VERSION% part.
52.x.x ESR users starting with a clean profile (or any other profile without an already installed Primetime plugin) should do the same, only replace %VERSION% with 51.0 instead.

After this, when you check your Plugins list, you should see a notice about the Primetime plugin getting downloaded shortly. If you don't want to wait, check for updates manually (from the gear button dropdown menu). The plugin files will be placed in the gmp-eme-adobe subfolder under your FF profile.

Once it has downloadedd, set the Primetime plugin to Always Activate, Flash to Never Activate (not strictly necessary, but better for testing), and go to Youtube HTML5 video player check page. Both H.264 and MSE & H.264 should have blue checkmarks. You may want to try this test page (kindly suggested by @dencorso) or some Twitter videos to quickly make sure H.264 really is working (with Youtube you can get fooled by WebM getting played instead).

In theory, you could uninstall Flash at this point, but realistically it's probably wiser for now to leave it installed and disabled in the browser. Personally, I installed the FlashDisable extension to quickly toggle Flash on some of the sites I frequent that don't support HTML5 video. Some of those insistently serve Flash video to desktop FF without even checking if it can do HTML5 video or not. That can be worked around by faking a different user agent string, but for now I've found it more convenient to just temporarily toggle Flash back on for them. FlashDisable supports the Ask to Activate setting, so you don't have to worry about other sites if you forget to turn Flash off again.

Based on what Mozilla devs have been saying on Bugzilla (Unhide Adobe GMP on Windows XP, Hide Adobe GMP on Windows XP in Firefox 46 and 47, Make Adobe GMP available to Windows XP users in Firefox 45 and later) it seems quite possible that this plugin could soon (FF 48+) be made available without having to use any tricks (or pre-release versions), but I suppose it's also possible that the current situation will continue indefinitely (or even that the plugin will eventually be made more difficult to access under XP). Still, why not make use of it while we can, right? :)

Note that HLS streaming is not natively supported with this plugin. It does work on sites coded to use some JS library or player to work with HLS, but not for directly playing .m3u8 video sources. You may want to keep an eye on developments with hls.js in general and firefox-hls in particular if a favorite site of yours falls into the latter category.

Spoiler

There was some discussion about this in the Chrome thread, but I thought it better to create a separate topic instead of having posts buried in a different thread. The most relevant parts are here: 1 (VistaLover), 2 (dencorso), 3 (VistaLover). Since it appears to have ended on a failure, I'm taking the liberty of restating some of what was covered by them. I don't mean to overstep or hog the glory by any means, so if the mods want to prepend those posts to this thread, I have no objection.

P.S. Hi everyone and thanks for the truckloads of useful information that's been posted here in the past. I've been lurking for about 1.5 years already and thought it was about time to contribute something.

Edited by mixit
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On 12/8/2015 at 5:57 PM, dencorso said:

cheerleader.gifcheerleader.gifcheerleader.gifcheerleader.gifcheerleader.gifcheerleader.gifcheerleader.gifcheerleader.gif  

You do rock! :yes: 

And welcome to MSFN! :hello:

BTW, one can even let the Flash Plugin on "Always Activate", too. It works just the same!

Here's the other HTML5 tests - video site: all video types now work!

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9 hours ago, dencorso said:

You do rock! :yes: 

And welcome to MSFN! :hello:

Thanks! :) I didn't expect anyone to pin this topic (I mean even the POSReady topic hasn't been), so since I've gotten used to skipping past the pinned topics to get to the new ones, I thought at first that it had been merged with another topic or moved. I looked around, still couldn't find it, and started thinking it had been deleted for some reason. :blink: Finally I saw it "hidden" above the ad that sort of breaks eye scanning, since the topmost pinned topic gets visually separated from the rest. Scared me there for a moment. :D

Quote

BTW, one can even let the Flash Plugin on "Always Activate", too. It works just the same!

Indeed, but I still think it's better to turn it off while testing if HTML5 video works properly. There also seem to be some sites that won't give FF HTML5 video unless Flash is turned off.

Quote

Here's the other HTML5 tests - video site: all video types now work!

I'll add it to the opening post.

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Small note, in the EME-Free variant of Firefox should not forget set media.eme.enabled to true.

:)

Edited by heinoganda
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1 hour ago, heinoganda said:

Small note, in the EME-Free variant of Firefox should not forget set media.eme.enabled to true.

:)

That's a good point, thanks! I guess I never thought of this because if someone went out of their way to get themselves a DRM-free version of FF, they likely wouldn't want to use this plugin either - but since it's the only way known to work with XP, it does make sense that some people might still wnat to use it as an exception. I'll add this to the instructions above.

Edited by mixit
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The following is Minimum setting.

media.gmp.decoder.enabled = true

set Windows Vista compatiblemode with fcwin2k.exe in KDW or NNN4NT5.

run Firefox ... and open about:plugins and wait.

OpenH264 Video Codec and Primetime Content Decryption Module will be installed .

restore executemode with fcwin2k.exe in KDW or NNN4NT5.

If you use Windows 2000.

set environment variable MOZ_DISABLE_GMP_SANDBOX = 1

On 2016年5月12日 at 1:02 AM, mixit said:

TL;DR, there is a fairly easy way to enable MP4 (H.264 + AAC) HTML5 video playback in Firefox on Windows XP using Adobe's Primetime Content Decryption Module plugin (distributed by Mozilla). Meaning, you could get rid of Flash (with some caveats). The irony of course being that you'd have to use another thing by Adobe :wacko:, but at least it's something not as prone to security problems.

Technically, this plugin has been added to FF for DRMed HTML5 video, but it can be used to play non-DRM as well. It's not officially supported on XP at this point, but hey, neither is XP itself, right? ;) I've been trying it out with FF 46 (the regular release channel version) on XP Pro SP3 x86 (with POSReady updates, though I doubt that matters any) for about a week now, and the experience has been pretty encouraging. The vast majority of HTML5 videos have worked without a hitch; ~5% have had 1-2 temporary freezes (the video stops, the audio continues with some crackle), which can be easily worked around by moving the video position slider back a bit and then forward again to where the freeze happened. I've seen only one (1) case of a show-stopper error message about "corruption or unsupported features in video" (quote not verbatim) that couldn't be worked around by jiggling the slider (not a crash, just an error message and the video stopped). You may not necessarily be as lucky, though, as the reason the plugin is not included by default by Mozilla is its reported crashing on some high profile sites.

The way to force the installation and operation of Primetime CDM in the current release version (FF 46) is to add/set the following preferences in about:config :

media.gmp-eme-adobe.forcevisible (boolean, true)

media.gmp-eme-adobe.enabled (boolean, true; this should already be the default in FF 46)

media.gmp.decoder.enabled (boolean, true; defaults to false in FF 46)

EDIT: also media.eme.enabled (boolean, true; defaults to false if you downloaded a DRM-free version of FF; thanks heinoganda for pointing this out)

After this, when you check you Plugins list, you should see a notice about the Primetime plugin getting downloaded shortly. (If you don't want to wait, click on More and then on the update link from there.) The plugin files will be placed in the gmp-eme-adobe subfolder under your FF profile.

Once it has downloadedd, set the Primetime plugin to "Always Activate", Flash to "Never Activate" (not strictly necessary, but better for testing), and go to Youtube HTML5 video player check page. Both H.264 and MSE & H.264 should have blue checkmarks. You may want to try this test page (kindly suggested by dencorso) or some Twitter videos to quickly make sure H.264 really is working (with Youtube you can get fooled by WebM getting played instead).

Based on what Mozilla devs have been saying on Bugzilla (Unhide Adobe GMP on Windows XP, Hide Adobe GMP on Windows XP in Firefox 46 and 47, Make Adobe GMP available to Windows XP users in Firefox 45 and later) it seems quite possible that this plugin could soon (FF 48+) be made available without having to use any tricks (or pre-release versions), but I suppose it's also possible that the current situation will continue indefinitely (or even that the plugin will eventually be made more difficult to access under XP). Still, why not make use of it while we can, right? :)

Edited by blackwingcat
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On 2016/5/31 at 5:56 AM, blackwingcat said:

[...]If you use Windows 2000.[...]

Thanks for checking this out on Win2K! I added a note to the opening post with a link to your instructions.

Also added a note about the media.gmp-eme-adobe.forcevisible pref getting replaced by media.gmp-eme-adobe.visible and media.gmp-eme-adobe.forceSupported in future versions.

Edited by mixit
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Did some testing with 45.2.0 ESR, and everything seems to work if an additional change is made to media.gmp-manager.url. I assume this applies to other 45 ESR versions as well. See the opening post for the details.

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Super job, Mixit.

I'm using Firefox on Windows XP as one of my main tools for my job, and I really needed a way to play H264 videos. It's rare to find a help topic with so many details, and so many edits to stay accurate.

Thank you very much. :)

Edited by King Kadelfek
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Hello,

I have followed the steps above, however still does not work (FF 47.0.1, XP SP3). In the addons opions I can see the PCD module, however the following message appears: Primetime Content Decryption Module provided by Adobe Systems, Inc will be installed shortly, however it does not update/install. It is set to Always Activate, updates on.

I tried restarting the OS, FF, disabled firewall, same message.

The url for media.gmp-manager.url is: https://aus5.mozilla.org/update/3/GMP/%VERSION%/%BUILD_ID%/%BUILD_TARGET%/%LOCALE%/%CHANNEL%/%OS_VERSION%/%DISTRIBUTION%/%DISTRIBUTION_VERSION%/update.xml

If I try to put it in the address bar i get 400 Bad Request, tried to change the version to 47/ 47.0/ 47.0.1, same error.

How else can I get the PCD module/ other options?

Edited by Newguy025
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42 minutes ago, Newguy025 said:

The url for media.gmp-manager.url is: https://aus5.mozilla.org/update/3/GMP/%VERSION%/%BUILD_ID%/%BUILD_TARGET%/%LOCALE%/%CHANNEL%/%OS_VERSION%/%DISTRIBUTION%/%DISTRIBUTION_VERSION%/update.xml

If you are on XP SP3 and using FF 47.0.1, you shouldn't need to change anything in the string value of media.gmp-manager.url: it's correct already! What part of "45.x.x ESR users *ONLY*" did you fail to understand? :dubbio:
Have you considered the server may be down? Wait at least 24h, then try again. :yes:
And when you do try again, be sure to click on "check for updates" if it still has not istalled by itself.

42 minutes ago, Newguy025 said:

The url for media.gmp-manager.url is: https://aus5.mozilla.org/update/3/GMP/%VERSION%/%BUILD_ID%/%BUILD_TARGET%/%LOCALE%/%CHANNEL%/%OS_VERSION%/%DISTRIBUTION%/%DISTRIBUTION_VERSION%/update.xml

If I try to put it in the address bar i get 400 Bad Request, tried to change the version to 47/ 47.0/ 47.0.1, same error.

Of course! All those variables will be undefined when using the address bar. :)

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I know it's only for version 45, it did not work with the other settings so I thought I might try changing that.

Anyway, it started working after 1 day or so, the only thing I cannot see is embedded facebook videos in articles, etc (are not visible on the page, fb videos play just fine). Does not display the Play DRM content button either.

Thanks a bunch:).

Edited by Newguy025
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Added the somewhat unfortunate news about Primetime CDM never getting official support on Windows XP to the top post.

.

@King Kadelfek: Glad I could help and I definitely appreciate you taking the time to sign up just to thank me :)

Edited by mixit
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On 11.05.2016 at 7:02 PM, mixit said:

media.gmp.decoder.enabled (boolean, true; defaults to false in FF 46)

  Reveal hidden contents

There was some discussion about this in the Chrome thread, but I thought it better to create a separate topic instead of having posts buried in a different thread. The most relevant parts are here: 1 (VistaLover), 2 (dencorso), 3 (VistaLover). Since it appears to have ended on a failure, I'm taking the liberty of restating some of what was covered by them. I don't mean to overstep or hog the glory by any means, so if the mods want to prepend those posts to this thread, I have no objection.

P.S. Hi everyone and thanks for the truckloads of useful information that's been posted here in the past. I've been lurking for about 1.5 years already and thought it was about time to contribute something.

After Firefox update to 48.0.2, H264 video stopped playing in Windows XP SP3
Well, it took me two nights to find this post, Thank you very-very-very much!

In my case, Adobe DRM was installed, but somehow Decoder option was disabled.
So I just put media.gmp.decoder.enabled = true, and this helped.

You won't believe how much crazy stuff people write about this problem -
including registry tweaks, system files manual copying, dll re-registering ...
I'm happy you were here to help with just Firefox config settings!

Great thanks!
 

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Welcome to MSFN!  :hello:
Glad you were able to get it working! And thanks for the heads up. :yes:

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