Mozilla is partnering with cloud-based 3D graphics rendering firm OTOY to develop a new codec called ORBX.js, which is capable of streaming high-definition video and Windows, Linux or Mac OS X apps to any browser that supports HTML5.

The breakthrough will allow users to run high-end desktop applications such as Adobe Photoshop CS6, Autodesk 3ds Max 2014 and even Valve’s Steam video game platform without any plugins or native code extensions. For video, that means no irritating plug-ins like Silverlight, Flash or QuickTime.

It’s a neat technology that should enable low-end machines and mobile devices to access professional and industry standard software without a hitch. After all, HTML 5 is currently supported by all of the most popular browsers at the moment, including Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

ORBX.js will be able to break down full HD (1080p), 60 frames per second video in JavaScript. OTOY’s own cloud application software will handle the CPU and GPU commands issued by the viewer before rendering the content remotely and issuing it back to the user through a standard HTML5 Web page.

DRM, be gone!

Mozilla and OTOY believe that the codec could “eliminate the need for DRM in movies and games with HMTL5 watermarking”, by introducing the watermark instead through the cloud. It essentially means that you don’t need DRM in the browser, or locked to a physical DVD or Blu-ray.

“Mozilla believes that video on the Web should be open and unencumbered,” Vlad Vukicevic, Mozilla Director of Engineering and creator of WebGL said.

“In an ideal world, we’d like to see codecs handled entirely in JavaScript or WebGL. We experimented with H.264 decoding in JavaScript with broadway.js previously and came to the conclusion that it was challenging to implement efficiently in JavaScript.”

He added: “OTOY’s codec was created from the ground up to run in a modern browser with fast JavaScript and WebGL. It is a remarkable achievement to see a high performance video codec rivaling H.264 that runs entirely in the browser.”

Anything that can help make browser plug-ins redundant is worth following in our books. We’ll be keeping an eye on Mozilla and OTOY to see how work on the ORBX.js codec progresses.