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August 07, 2012

Microsoft News - Microsoft Working on Putting Skype on WebRTC Platform

By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

Since Microsoft acquired Skype (News - Alert), the tech community has been looking for what improvements the computing giant was going to make to the video chat service.

There has been talk for months about how Microsoft (News - Alert) would leverage Skype and turn it into a program that would bring customers specifically to Windows over Apple (News - Alert). It looks like the company might finally be making their move, recently embracing the plugin-free real-time communication (WebRTC) standard. 

This announcement means that eventually, Skype will be a program available in a browser-based version, rather than as a program that has to be downloaded.

Microsoft paid $8.5 billion for the Skype platform back in 2011, and has not been able to find a way to leverage the service since then. Using WebRTC could be the silver bullet when it comes to making Skype their very own.

Bloggers at GigaOm broke this particular story, claiming to have insiders who have said that Microsoft’s Skype unit has been working on a browser-based version of Skype for a while now. Eventually, Skype would work on a wide variety of browsers, including Firefox and Chrome, without needing to download a special plugin.

Microsoft is working on a Web RTC build for Skype, as the company does not feel as though there is a current version that meets certain requirements of Skype. The Skype team recently wrote on its blog that "It shows no signs of offering real world interoperability with existing VoIP phones, and mobile phones, from behind firewalls and across routers and instead focuses on video communication between web browsers under ideal conditions."

WebRTC is built using HTML5, which should make it compatible over a wide range of platforms. The problem arises in that VoIP has been notoriously hard to use when it comes to making it ubiquitous.

If the Microsoft teams dedicated to making Skype utilize WebRTC, it could be the first big move for Skype since the service was released. Microsoft would be responsible for making Skype that much easier to use and that would make the service truly its own for the first time.

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Edited by Braden Becker

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