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Microsoft Enables Skype for Web and Outlook to Run in Edge Browser without Plugin

September 22, 2015

In exciting news for the real-time communications space, Microsoft has made Skype for Web available without plug-ins in its new Microsoft Edge browser. Redmond has made the Object RTC (ORTC) APIs available for preview, enabling real-time audio and video to run on top of the browser without plugins, which translates to faster and better quality communications for users of Skype for Web and Skype for Outlook.com.

By unveiling the new API, Microsoft has opened up audio and videoconferencing development not only for Skype but for other WebRTC-compatible services. While currently still in the preview stage, Microsoft expects the technology to go live later this year. The company also announced on its Skype blog that it is planning to bring the same experience to Skype for Business.

Specifically, the ORTC APIs offer granular control over audio and video streams on client machines as well as the transport layer. The APIs also support development of more advanced RTC scenarios like group video calls while promoting easy interoperability with existing telephony networks.

On the standards side, Microsoft is updating the Skype media stack on all platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android, with standard transport protocol support. The company has also added support of the Opus codec in ORTC for better and faster audio and is working to support H.264 on the video side.

Image via Shutterstock

“We’re thrilled about the exciting scenarios that ORTC APIs enable and we are proud to be one of the first to use these ORTC APIs in the Edge Browser,” wrote the Skype Team in the blog announcement. “The ORTC APIs will enable us to develop advanced real-time communications scenarios – like group video calls with participants all on different browsers and operating systems – using features like Simulcast and Scalable Video Coding (SVC), all while preserving the ability to easily interop with existing telephony networks.”

Microsoft plans to leverage the existing WebRTC APIs in Chrome and Firefox to offer a similar Skype experience without plugins. The company also said that a small browser plugin will remain available for browsers that lack support for ORTC or WebRTC. And Microsoft is also working to integrate support for ORTC and WebRTC APIs into its developer offerings later in the year.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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