updated 06:17 pm EDT, Mon August 6, 2012
First step towards in-browser Skype video without plug-ins
Microsoft has officially announced its proposal to bring realtime communication in browsers, without relying on plug-ins. The W3C WebRTC working group received the "Customizable, Ubiquitous Real Time Communication over the Web" (CU-RTC-Web) proposal from the software giant, as the first step toward establishing a standard that would be essential to creating a browser-based version of Skype.
In contrast to other companies also working on the HTML5-based communications standard and building it into existing products, such as Google and Mozilla, Microsoft is avoiding making it publicly available until it is a fully formalized standard. The current roadblock in the standard's development is the choice of codecs being used, with Google and Mozilla wanting to use the open sources VP8 as default, whereas Microsoft wishes to be more flexible.
Microsoft is planning on implementing a browser-based version of Skype within Outlook.com, something which it has already worked on for some time. This iteration would require a plug-in and would not use WebRTC, however this could change in the future once the standard is completed. The WebRTC standard would allow cross-platform audio- and video-based communications, potentially allowing services like Google Talk and Skype to work together. [via GigaOM]