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Enabling seamless communication experiences for the web with Skype, Skype for Business and Microsoft Edge

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Today we’re excited to share an important step in our efforts to bring seamless real-time communication experiences on the web to everyone—the Object Real-Time Communications Community (ORTC) API preview for Microsoft Edge browser is now available in the latest Windows Insider Preview release!

The ORTC API preview for Microsoft Edge is the latest result of a close, ongoing collaboration between the Windows and Skype teams. Together we’re able to apply decades of experience building great web platforms to deliver some of the largest and most reliable real-time communications services for businesses and consumers. What does this mean for you? For developers, we’re providing new ways to build innovative real-time communications into your web-based experiences. For people using Skype and Skype for Business at work or at home, calls and meetings on the web will soon get even easier and more seamless.

ORTC API capabilities

The ORTC APIs enable the development of real-time audio and video communications applications directly on top of the Microsoft Edge browser without the need to install any plug-ins. Using components provided directly by the browser, the ORTC APIs provide granular control over audio and video streams on the client machine as well as the transport layer that carries those streams over the network. ORTC APIs also support the development of more advanced real-time communications scenarios—such as group video calls with a diverse set of endpoints—using features like Simulcast and Scalable Video Coding (SVC), while preserving the ability to easily interop with existing telephony networks.

ORTC and Skype investment in standards

Building on the momentum of our updated Skype for Outlook.com and Skype for Web experiences announced earlier this summer, enabling ORTC API support in Microsoft Edge is part of our ongoing effort to bring seamless, real-time communication experiences on the web to everyone. We want Skype to help users reach anyone, anywhere, without interoperability concerns getting in your way. We also want to ensure web-based Skype experiences connect smoothly with the hundreds of millions of other Skype and Skype for Business clients running on desktops and various mobile platforms around the world. As a result, we’re making significant investments in standards-based, protocol-level support for ORTC and WebRTC interoperability across our platforms. Specifically:

  • We are updating our Skype media stack on all platforms (Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android) with Standard transport protocols support, including STUN (RFC 5389), TURN (RFC 5766), ICE (RFC 5245), DTLS-SRTP (RFC 5764). The Skype media stack is used by all Skype and Skype for Business clients, cloud services and servers.
  • For audio, on top of SILK, G.711, G.722, we have added support of the Opus codec in ORTC. We will continue to add native Opus support in our Skype media stack for all platforms.
  • For video, Skype and ORTC in the Edge browser currently support 264UC. We are working on adding support for H.264. This will enable video interop between Skype and the Firefox browser, which currently supports H.264, and the Chrome browser when H.264 support is added to its WebRTC implementation.

Here’s a high-level view of how a group video call will connect between Skype clients and the plug-in-less Skype for Web clients using ORTC/WebRTC from various browsers:

Enabling seamless communication experiences

Enabling seamless web experiences with Skype

Starting later this year, we will start to enable seamless communication and collaboration experiences for Skype for Web, starting with voice and video, without the need for plug-ins on Microsoft Edge. We are also working on bringing the same seamless experience to Skype for Business. For Chrome and Firefox, we will leverage existing WebRTC APIs to offer similar plug-in-less experiences where possible for most scenarios. For those browsers without support for ORTC or WebRTC, we will continue to provide an integrated experience using a small browser plug-in.

Lastly, for developers who take advantage of Skype Developer Platform capabilities such as Skype URI support and the Skype Web SDK Preview, we want you to be able to focus on building great web experiences that will work on the broadest range of browsers. We are working to integrate support for the ORTC and WebRTC APIs into our developer offerings while abstracting out the low-level details and differences in media handling between browsers with integrated real-time communications support and other browsers that still require a plug-in. Look for more details on these developer updates later in the year.

We’re excited about the upcoming updates to enable even more seamless communications experiences on the web and look forward to sharing more details in the near future. In the meantime, we’re always looking to improve your experience on Skype, and we care about your feedback. We’d love to hear from you via Skype Community, Skype for Business feedback, Facebook and Twitter.

—Hao Yan, Jonathan Watson, Daniel Jonathan Valik and Senthil Velayutham on behalf of the Skype for Business team

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