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Microsoft: The likely outcome

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

8651There he sat yesterday in the WebRTC Expo audience, a lone Microsoft employee, the only noise in the room of knives being sharpened and swords being unsheathed.  He made the mistake of asking a question about the WebRTC movement akin to questioning the existence of god at a Southern Baptist Convention. The lights dimmed and suddenly, he was gone.

The $64k question is how does Microsoft Internet Explorer play out with WebRTC. I have some hints.

I have learned this week that a large networking company has recently completed an annual survey of their top CIO customers with the simple question. “What technologies are you important to you in 2014?”  WebRTC is #2 on the list. It was a surprise result and this company is now applying afterburners into their R&D cycles.

The networking company sells to FORTUNE 500 types, the same food group for Microsoft’s primary meal. So it stands to reason, that CIO’s have some hapless Microsoft Account Executive squirming in their office chair trying to answer how Microsoft is going to address the need for multi-media P2P communications inside a browser.

The argument that CU-RTC is their vehicle falls flat. A quick Google search reveals under 10,000 unique pages. My own name generated 3,600 uniques! Rendering me 1/3 as popular as CU-RTC (answers a lot of questions for me). WebRTC is powering along at 1.6m unique pages. Microsoft would be better suited to say RCS (Rich Communications Suite) is their multimedia protocol, RCS has ~ 200k uniques. Both are deserving of a sea burial with full military honors.

However, Microsoft isn’t about to cower to Google. But, if something it standardized, they can incorporate it without loss of face. The issue is the road to WebRTC standardization is long, however I believe Microsoft will acknowledge at some point in 2014 that it is on the road to standard’hood. However, they won’t do this without a twist. Likely by embedding their own extensions and introducing alternative concepts. No doubt some whiteboard in Redmond has various ideas written upon it.

These extensions will likely break the standard just enough to make life difficult for the app developer. We just want our application to work for the end user and really aren’t interested in being a foot soldier in the war of browsers. Hence it is likely we will have to develop an abstraction layer so we don’t have to be too terribly bothered. The jQuery for WebRTC.  While it’s not being called that in discussions this week, it would seem the air is ripe for the development of this type of common module.

Microsoft is now playing a very dangerous game of chicken. A failure to act prudently could have millions of desktops converting away from Internet Explorer literally overnight.