The Skype Team has announced the availability of the Object RTC API preview on Microsoft Edge for the latest Windows 10 insider build. According to the Skype team, later this year when Object RTC is fully enabled in Edge, users will be able to make audio and video calls within the browser without the use of plugins. The Skype and Edge teams are also working on bringing this functionality to Skype for Business.
ObjectRTC (ORTC), as well as its sister API, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), are in-development web standard APIs that enable real time streaming of data between web browsers. This facilitates web apps such as voice calling, video conferencing, and general P2P data sharing directly within the browsers. These APIs are the last puzzle pieces needed to make apps like Skype for Web and Skype for Outlook.com fully functional within the browser.
With Adobe’s Flash browser plugin on its way out of mainstream browsing, the healthy development of ORTC and WebRTC brings us one step closer to the web ideal: a world wide web where content is powered without the use of proprietary and potentially unsecure plugins, entirely by open standard browser technologies. Although, interestingly enough, what constitutes a viable “open standard” is still a hotly contested arena.
Object RTC was developed by Microsoft in response to what the company saw as a flawed WebRTC standard. The WebRTC standard is backed most noticeably by Google and Mozilla, the developers of Edge/IE competitors Chrome and Firefox respectively. It should be mentioned that Google is also an active participant in ORTC development as well.
If web standards are supposed to eliminate unnecessary in-fighting and strengthen interoperability between browsers, doesn’t having two competing real-time data APIs go against this ideal? Not necessarily in this case, as the ORTC developers have promised that ORTC will be compatible with WebRTC. Currently, Edge will be the only browser support ORTC, whereas Chrome, Firefox, and Opera will support WebRTC. It should be noted that Apple is conspicuously absent from officially supporting either API.Microsoft Edge, Outlook, preview, Skype, web, Windows 10