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What Microsoft’s WebRTC announcement means?

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

440aluminumtreeIt wasn’t my intent to “rain” on the enthusiasm on the clear movement by Microsoft towards WebRTC. I wanted though to temper the inevitable “Action News @ 6” type of journalism that is always clanking on pots n’ pans irrespective of the news relevance. If you didn’t think Microsoft was eventually going to do something like WebRTC, you clearly missed something. My point is that it will not be as fast as the breathless news reporter wants you to believe.

The scary surprise, it is now possible that Internet Explorer could actually be “more” WebRTC compliant than Chrome at some point next year (I can see the propeller spinning off the heads of all the WebRTC fanatics). If we thought the incompatibilities between Firefox and Chrome were bad, just wait. It’s still a bumpy road ahead.

BUT – this is clearly good news and it’s good news for a handful of reasons:

  1. Microsoft is going to demand what effectively will be WebRTC 2.0 and something that can be standardized. Trail blazing in the early days, some mistakes were made, corners cut we’d all admit. But it’s time for a bit of a clean-up and all are in favor of that. So this announcement is a super positive.
  2. Microsoft Internet Explorer has been steadily losing share to a global 20-25% range, however, it’s still a major force inside of many large corporations (who often lock down employee devices). Having said that IE 8/9/10 are still out there and the upgrade process is often slow (particularly for internal web apps built for IE8/9 that will cost big $$$ to change). The upgrade path will chug along.
  3. Microsoft has tremendous reach into enterprises and has potentially a wider platform to evangelize WebRTC (particularly for internal closed loop applications).
  4. Microsoft has a well oiled machine to educate the middle of the Bell Curve of Internet developers. The understanding of WebRTC remains a challenge to even the most fluent of developers.
  5. Microsoft has an opportunity to streamline a more complete WebRTC block offering linking various Microsoft services together into a logical offering. This alignment could trump Google’s often very independent service architecture.

The wheel of justice will turn slowly on this, but the wheels have indeed started to turn and we should expect the first crack to be the latter half of 2015. Like little kids awaiting Christmas, we want it tomorrow, but we’re just gonna have to shake wrapped boxes a bit longer.