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ORTC Signals Microsoft's Embrace of WebRTC

August 22, 2014

A new specification called Object Real-Time Communications is helping to bring Microsoft and its popular Internet Explorer browser into the WebRTC fold.

ORTC comes out of a group called the W3C Object RTC Community Group, which is spearheaded by Hookflash and counts Google and Microsoft among its members.

In an April blog Adalberto Foresti, principal program manager lead at Microsoft Open Technologies Inc., wrote: “What is the attraction of the ORTC API for web developers? ORTC offers an object-centric API that JavaScript developers find easy to work with, because it requires less of a background in unified communications concepts such as Session Description Protocol (SDP) and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Offer/Answer state machine.”

The new API also supports video simulcast and scalable video coding that enables mobile devices, PCs and tablets to participate in the same videoconference, even though each device may vary in screen size and bandwidth availability, he noted.

“ORTC is how Microsoft will support WebRTC,” Phil Edholm, president and founder of PKE Consulting, said today during a call with RealTimeCommunications.

That’s important given that WebRTC already is supported in the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera browsers, while Apple and Microsoft (until now) have repeatedly been called out for their lack of support for WebRTC.

WebRTC is expected to integrate ORTC into its 1.1 release. As Edholm wrote in a WebRTC Solutions article posted yesterday, Google has indicated it will support the WebRTC 1.1 standard in Chrome release 38 or 39, while Microsoft has indicated it will support the ORTC version of WebRTC, but may not support the SDP version. In the case of both companies that should be in about 6 months, Edholm told RealTimeCommunications this morning. 

Christopher J. Vitek, WebRTC evangelist at GENBAND, said that ORTC “gives an alternative to those developers that want more centralized control.  Many of the JavaScript calls will remain the same for both; however, ORTC changes some. The codecs are all the same. So, if you are using a WebRTC implementation you make the function calls that are specific to WebRTC.  Likewise with ORTC. The user interface is still a browser, or native client, and the JavaScript functions are still exposed on a web page.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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