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February 07, 2013

Google, Mozilla Demonstrate WebRTC with Video Chat in Browsers - How Will Microsoft React?

The battle between Microsoft with its CU-RTC API versus WebRTC IETF supporters like Google, Opera and Mozilla over standards has just taken an interesting turn. On Monday, a video was posted demonstrating cross browser video chat between Chrome and Firefox using WebRTC.

Todd Simpson, chief of innovation for Mozilla, went to a website supporting WebRTC and gave it permission to use his camera. Shortly thereafter, he connected with Hugh Finnan, director of product management for Google Chrome and began a video chat without using plugins.

The post on the Chromium blog provides information on how a WebRTC call can be initiated. WebRTC is not available in standard versions of Chrome and Firefox; installing Chrome 25 Beta and Firefox Nightly for Desktop is required. Additionally, a config setting change in Firefox must be changed.

After that you can go to the WebRTC demo site and make your video call.

The demo from Mozilla and Google deals a serious blow to Microsoft's attempts to influence the W3C standards for WebRTC. The standards for WebRTC are currently incomplete, but Microsoft felt that what had been developed so far had some shortcomings.

It cited the dependency on SDP and SIP and the lack of stateless interactions as obstacles to creating a good WebRTC API.

As a result, Microsoft developed the CU-RTC API as an alternative to WebRTC IETF. Microsoft lost a vote by the W3C to adopt CU-RTC into the standard. The firm’s response was to keep pushing CU-RTC and attempt a comeback.

It appeared that Microsoft might have a chance when they made a demo using CU-RTC back in January, but Monday's demo with Mozilla and Chrome will put a damper on those prospects.

What happens next is anyone's guess, but it seems likely that W3C will move forward with what WebRTC IETF has developed so far. Microsoft's next response will be interesting. Will it keep pushing CU-RTC or go along with WebRTC? If it does support WebRTC, will the company put CU-RTC extensions on it or is CU-RTC dead now?

Edited by Braden Becker
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