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html5 videoCompanies like Google and Mozilla have been talking up HTML5, the latest version of basic markup language for websites, for a while now. HTML5 is supposed to enable more powerful web applications that don’t require users to download any software, but it’s still in the very early stages of adoption (in part because it’s still being finalized).

Today, Google-owned YouTube made the first step in what could be a very significant move for HTML5, by announcing a test version of an HTML5 video player. Adobe’s Flash format is currently powering 75 percent of web video, Adobe says, including YouTube, so if the video supersite starts supporting another format in a big way, that could erode Flash’s ubiquity. It makes sense for YouTube to support the switch, not just because of Google’s broader interest in HTML5, but also because it means visitors can watch YouTube videos without downloading a plugin.

For now, the HTML5 player only works on Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer with with the ChromeFrame. It also doesn’t support ads, captions, or annotations. There are instructions on how to try out the player in YouTube’s blog post.

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