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April 25, 2017

New Version of Edge Supports WebRTC

Microsoft this month updated its Edge browser, adding support for Brotli compression, WebRTC-based real time communications, and more.

These new Edge features are offered as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update. And they illustrate how the long-time software giant is now following in Google’s footsteps – and at long last embracing WebRTC.

Brotli is an open source technology. Microsoft is supporting it because it allows for faster rendering of Web pages. This compression algorithm, which came out of Google, has since been open sourced and adopted by many browser companies.

WebRTC also has strong connections to Google. This technology got its start at Global IP Solutions, a company that provided the technology to such large VoIP companies as Avaya, Cisco, Nortel and others. Google purchased GIPS in 2011. Shortly after that, it made the technology open source, which kicked off the WebRTC movement.

Google has been a leading advocate of WebRTC ever since, and has long supported WebRTC in its Chrome browser. WebRTC is also supported in the Mozilla Firefox and Opera browsers.

But WebRTC champions have been concerned about how widely this technology could spread without support in the browsers offered by Apple and Microsoft. So the fact that Microsoft now supports WebRTC in Edge – which is clearly the future browser for the company – is great news. And it’s been a long time coming.

Indeed, Microsoft’s move to embrace WebRTC has been iterative. A few years ago, the company announced its support for Object Real-Time Communications, which provides an object-centric API that JavaScript developers find easy to work with.

The company introduced support for ORTC in its Internet Explorer browser back in 2014. It also supported ORTC in Edge beginning with EdgeHTML 13, the Windows 10 version 1511.

Representatives with the WebRTC community responded that these moves were a good start for Microsoft. But, until now, Microsoft had stopped short of fully embracing WebRTC, which can allow for easy integration of real time voice and video communications into existing and new websites and applications.

Edited by Alicia Young
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