The Dominance of Browsers: FSF Reveals Chrome’s JPEG XL Killing and Its Implications for the Internet

Enlarge / When Google, whose Chromium/Chrome-related browsers make up 80% of browser share, says that one thing has “not sufficient curiosity from the complete ecosystem,” what does that imply, precisely?

Aurich Lawson

The Free Software program Basis (FSF) has criticized Chrome builders’ determination to take away assist for the JPEG XL picture format, which was based mostly on Google’s PIK format. In accordance with FSF’s Campaigns Supervisor, Greg Farough, that is one other signal of the “disturbing quantity of management” that Google has over browsers and the net. Farough took challenge with Google’s assertion that “there’s not sufficient curiosity from the complete ecosystem to proceed experimenting with JPEG XL.” He argued that Google is “asking itself what Google needs” and never taking into consideration the wants and preferences of others.

JPEG XL was frozen in late 2020, and it was solely accessible as an experimental function in Chrome model 91. It was eliminated in Chrome 110, and few applications supported the format on the time. JPEG XL proponents claimed that widespread adoption might scale back international bandwidth use by 25–30%. Nonetheless, the format confronted vital hurdles, together with competing codecs topic to royalties and patents. Apple, Google, and Mozilla acquired behind AV1F as a substitute, which is already supported by a number of browsers, together with Android 12, macOS 13, and iOS 16.

Whereas AV1F is licensed royalty-free, the Alliance for Open Media (AOM), which oversees it, is underneath investigation by European Union antitrust regulators for probably imposing licensing phrases on innovators who weren’t a part of AOM when AV1F was created. Microsoft additionally acquired a patent on a core compression algorithm utilized in JPEG XL, and consultants within the digital picture area disagreed on whether or not it offered an issue for JPEG XL. Mozilla declared itself “impartial” on the format and would solely assist it if utilization turned extra widespread.

One factor that might have made JPEG XL extra widespread would have been Chrome’s adoption of the format, given Chrome accounts for practically two-thirds of worldwide browser utilization, in line with StatCounter. Nonetheless, Google determined to drop JPEG XL in Chrome and open-sourced an “consideration middle mannequin” machine studying instrument used within the format as a substitute.