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Firefox Users Encounter Yet Another YouTube Glitch Due to Google

Photo credit: dennizn / Shutterstock

For those who favor Mozilla Firefox, the journey is often filled with ups and downs. Not only do they face the constant nagging to switch to more dominant browsers from big tech companies—excuse the Cyberpunk reference—but they also struggle with regular issues when accessing various websites and services, with Firefox enthusiasts feeling the pinch particularly sharply.

The perennial thorn in the side for Firefox aficionados comes from Google’s YouTube. A subset of these users reported problems streaming high definition content, especially videos of 1080p resolution and above. The playback was inconsistent—some high-resolution videos played without any problem, while others froze unexpectedly once the already-buffered portion completed.

Interestingly, this snag seemed to plague Firefox, and maybe its derivatives, specifically. Browsers based on the Chromium engine, on the other hand, appeared to be unaffected.

YouTube Blamed After Detailed Examination

After much effort dedicated to problem-solving, Mozilla has announced that a patch is on its way. This solution is planned for release in the upcoming Firefox 127.0.2 update this month, having missed the opportunity to be incorporated into the release of Firefox 127.0.1 today.

The root cause was initially elusive, leading to delays in the repair.

Mozilla’s Alastor Wu has identified the problem as an issue with how YouTube manages the VP9 video codec stream, confirming that the hiccup wasn’t due to a flaw within Firefox’s code.

In his explanation on Bugzilla, Wu states: “This problem arises because of YouTube’s incorrect handling of VP9 video codec stream packaging. Firefox is not the culprit here; this issue is reproducible even in its older versions.”

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In other words, the difficulties were triggered by recent changes Google made on YouTube. While there is no clear evidence that this was deliberate, it had significant consequences for both Firefox users and Mozilla itself.

Some users affected by this issue could have erroneously blamed Firefox and might have even switched to a Chromium-based browser as those did not exhibit the same playback problems.

A Recurring Issue That’s Unlikely to Disappear

Recalling a similar incident from 2018, Firefox developers expressed frustration on the then-active Twitter platform, declaring that YouTube loaded significantly slower, by up to five times, on browsers other than Chromium. This issue also impacted the original Microsoft Edge browser.

The cause was Google’s use of a then-legacy API that was exclusively optimized for Chromium, thereby disadvantaging Firefox and other browsers.

Looking to 2023, we saw a reminiscent problem when Firefox users reported YouTube videos loading slowly, standing in stark contrast to the seamless performance on browsers running Chromium. By this point, Microsoft had already switched Edge over to the Chromium, escaping such issues.

An Alternative Perspective

While it might be tempting to cry foul play, there are other potential reasons. For example:

Google might be rigorously vetting updates in Chrome or other Chromium-based browsers and failing to extend the same level of scrutiny to Firefox, causing mishaps that slip through the cracks when new features or changes are introduced.

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Photo credit: dennizn / Shutterstock

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