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Microsoft Makes Move to Support WebRTC in Internet Explorer

October 28, 2014

Microsoft has announced that it is supporting WebRTC and possibly releasing a plug-in that supports Skype within the browser, VentureBeat reports.

“We aim to make browser-based calls more convenient by removing the need to download a plugin,” Shihun Sun, senior program manager for Internet Explorer wrote in an official Internet Explorer developer’s blog post. “It’s all about convenience – imagine you’ll be able to simply open IE and make a Skype call to friends, family, or get real-time support for that new device right from your browser.”

Internet Explorer will be the fourth major browser to support WebRTC, after Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera when it’s finally implemented. WebRTC allows users to communicate in real time with voice and video, as well as sharing data.

Microsoft is working on the ORTC API for WebRTC so that developers will be able to implement WebRTC applications within Internet Explorer. The company has been working with major open standards organizations like the W3C and the IETF, as well as 80 other participants, including browser makers, Internet experts and startup companies. The W3C has already issued a “call for implementations” which means that the ORTC specification is already stable.

It’s a far cry from the bitter “browser wars” between Microsoft and Netscape that had Microsoft trying to make itself the major browser on all computers everywhere. Embracing open standards like WebRTC shows how pragmatic the modern Microsoft is.

The move is not entirely altruistic. The company wants to influence how the WebRTC 1.0 standard will develop before Google, who created it, exerts too much power over WebRTC.

Microsoft has not actually confirmed a version of Skype that will be WebRTC-based yet, but having the backing of Microsoft will bolster the adoption of the WebRTC standard.

“This is just the beginning of our implementation effort in IE.  We’re working closely with the web community to improve other existing standards for richer video interoperability, for example, features to adapt to changing bandwidth conditions and more,” Sun wrote.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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