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Microsoft to support WebRTC

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

Explorer47The lights flickered yesterday as Skype’s  wrote about support for ORTC API for WebRTC. Nearly immediately blog posts, articles, tweets and re-tweets, opinions and pontiffs extolling the next coming of Christ hit the wires. Me? I was busy perfecting an Australian flat white.

Let’s start with the obvious. Downloading apps is stupid in a ultra connected high speed world. You’ll be telling your children how you used to download apps (they’ll roll their eyes about grand pa/ma talking about the good ole days). Apps are dead, get over it.

Clearly Skype has a problem. People hate apps, we live today inside a browser. Skype doesn’t live inside a browser. So there you go. The new battle is (1) be a tab that I have open and (2) be the tab I have visible the most hours in my day and (3) be the most open tab that I’m busy mousing around in. The page visibility API that most browsers support is not being taken advantage of enough IMHO. The next battle will be eye ball time, page views will be a thing of the past.

The notion of a phone is a dead, the typewriter of the past, the idea of a single purpose device used solely for communications will have your dog giving you “that” look in the future. Everything will have some communications element. This means WebRTC, it’s children or cousins will have some continued life no matter what. Thus we need some standard.

Why is this going to happen? First because you (as the user) won’t need to do anything, it will just be there. Doing nothing is the #1 choice of consumers. Second, the cost to offering communications will be near zero (an ugly story for anyone trying to charge you a per minute rate) so you’ll do it just because it seemed like a good idea.

So Skype has a problem, they need to solve it. Microsoft is busy in the back seat, happily munching along on the remaining flesh on Siemens, Nortel and Avaya with Lync in the last of the PBX era. But Microsoft isn’t stupid. Clearly communications will be on your computer and clearly without an app and with nearly no infrastructure. The question though is “when” does this problem need solving?

The first pass of WebRTC has that “Google” smell all over it. No one likes that, not even Google. Like any first pass, you learn things, particularly things you wouldn’t do again and WebRTC is no exception. ORTC is an attempt to have a more grown up version of WebRTC. No one is arguing that.

So Skype giving the nod to ORTC is great. I’m happy. But don’t rush yet to the Internet Explorer store to get the latest copy, because my guess – you’re gonna be waiting a while.

As previously written, Microsoft could push forward their own variant of WebRTCish stuff with the end effect we have 3 different variants of WebRTC like API’s (Microsoft, Google, Firefox). Did I hear a developer scream? Or Microsoft could bide their time and await a sanctioned ORTC WebRTC standard, likely available between now and the end of recorded history.

Glossed over by many and to me the MOST important single sentence in the entire Skype blog post.

e.g. the primary video codec that is deployed both in communications endpoints and supported in hardware today is ITU-T H.264, which will be the supported video codec.

So pack up your pots n’ pans, put away your saber rattling, tear down the podium folks – Microsoft is only saying that they love H.264. Don’t we all.