Microsoft's WebRTC commitment first step toward browser-based Skype

Redmond backs a new web standard for plugin-free communication

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Although Microsoft isn't coming right out and saying it, Redmond's support for the new WebRTC standard is aimed at making Skype available from any web browser, without the need for plugins.

Microsoft officially announced support of the W3C's WebRTC, which is working to create a standard for video and audio chat within web browsers.

The standard could eventually make Skype work from any supported web browser without the need for plugins, and even interconnect with third-party services such as Google Talk.

Although Microsoft supports WebRTC, their proposal includes some deviations from rival Google, who pinned its hopes on its own VP8 video codec as the default video codec for the standard.

Microsoft spreading the love

While Firefox creator Mozilla also backs VP8, Microsoft believes WebRTC should be more flexible in its approach.

"Flexibility in its support of popular media formats and codecs as well as openness to future innovation," explains Microsoft-Skype executive Matthew Kaufman. "A successful standard cannot be tied to individual codecs, data formats or scenarios."

Microsoft's ultimate goal is for WebRTC to work even on legacy devices and web browsers, and Kaufman appears optimistic that his company will be able to work with other parties - including Google - to make that happen.

Via GigaOM