Why can’t I view videos in my web browser?

View videos in my web browser

Why can’t I view videos in my web browser?

Which browser are you using?

If you are struggling to watch videos on your browser, it is likely that your default browser is out of date.  This is a particular problem in the health sector where many staff are still using Internet Explorer (IE) 8 or 9. (The latest version is IE11.)

Here is the advice from MS about updating IE8 (http://www.update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate/v6/thanks.aspx?ln=en&&thankspage=5)

Despite that, updating it may not be possible because of other system issues.

As a result, many people load Chrome as an alternative. It works well and seems to provide the best platform for supporting video and video services. You can download it here If you are allowed to do so.

Is your browser up-to-date?

Whichever browser you are using, you need to make sure that you are using the latest version of your browser software to get the best experience. So, always keep your version updated.  With Chrome and most of the other providers, these updates normally happen in the background when you close and reopen your computer’s browser.

However, we do know that in some organisations automated browser updates are disabled, so you may need to contact your IT Helpdesk to request an upgrade.

Is HTML5 causing you problems?

The issue could be due to HTML5, the latest version of HTML code that describes webpages.  HTML5 brought in new tags that make exciting things happen automatically on a website such as determining your location, handling high definition video, animation, all without having to use additional software.  It also enables websites to work cross-platform, which means it detects what type of device you are using and will adapt how it delivers information.

Most of the main web browsers i.e. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari support the new HTML5 technology but they don’t all support the same things.  The table below identifies which web browsers support (or not) key video formats:

Browser Will play May not play
Internet Explorer H.264 (MP4) WebM, Ogg
Safari H.264 (MP4) WebM, Ogg
Firefox WebM, Ogg H.264 (MP4)
Chrome All  

As a standard at Health and Care Videos, the videos we produce for our clients are provided in H.264/MP4 format as it is the most widely accepted, but as you can see, this could pose a problem for people viewing them using the Firefox web browser.

On the other hand, if you are using one of our embed codes which we create through Vimeo, then your videos should play, as long as your browser software is up to date.

Do HTML5 and IE8 get on?

Unfortunately IE8 and earlier versions do not support HTML5 tags so anyone using these systems and browsers will have trouble viewing video in these browsers.

There is a complicated way of adding code to every webpage to enable support of the HTML5 tags, but most developers or organisations do not want to spend time doing this.  Microsoft’s answer was to bring out IE9 and get people to upgrade.  We are now on IE11 and in truth, you should use the latest version for the best experience.

So our message is ‘Upgrade’.

Our concerns

As you can imagine, we want people to enjoy video and we want it to be easily accessible. In most instances this is what happens. But where people are using out of date browsers they experience real problems.

As a consequence, they don’t see the benefits of using video in health and care and dismiss it as an opportunity to deliver efficiencies, reduce costs and provide a better patient experience.  This is a real shame.

The bizarre thing is that very few patients use old browsers. Nearly all of them are on computers running the latest versions, or tablets and smartphones which are ready and hungry to handle video.

So staff operating on old kit dismiss the opportunity, which results in their patients (who are using more up-to-date equipment) missing out.  Don’t let that happen to your patients.