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Microsoft Going Its Own Way On Audio/Video Specification 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the you're-not-the-boss-of-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Several groups are currently working on specifications for plugin-free, real-time audio and video communication. The World Wide Web Consortium has one called WebRTC, rudimentary support for which is found in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Back in August, Microsoft announced its own specification, CU-RTC-Web, because it thought WebRTC wasn't worthwhile. W3C carried out a vote to choose between the two specs, which came out strongly in favor of WebRTC. Microsoft went ahead anyway, and it has now published a prototype for the proposed specification. 'So what's Microsoft playing at, persevering with its own spec in spite of its rejection by the WebRTC group? The company's argument is twofold. First, WebRTC simply isn't complete yet, and Microsoft believes that working on its proposal can shed light on how to solve certain problems such as handling changes in network bandwidth or keeping cellular and Wi-Fi connections open in parallel to allow easy failover from one to the other. Even if Redmond's spec isn't adopted wholesale, portions of it may still be useful. Second, the company believes that WebRTC may not be as close to real standardization as its proponents might argue.'"
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Microsoft Going Its Own Way On Audio/Video Specification

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  • by SmoothTom (455688) <Tomas@TiJiL.org> on Saturday January 19, 2013 @08:14PM (#42636101) Homepage

    Microsoft has followed this path from the beginning with standards: Adopt, adapt, expand and control.

    Always adding something "extra" so that other software that actually follows the standard doesn't work quite right with stuff built to Microsoft's "standard" so that the stuff built to actually follow the world standard looks inferior. :(
    --Tomas

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @08:21PM (#42636141) Journal

    Does anybody even care what Microsoft does these days? They even seem to fail at being evil, though they still try.

    Yep. IE is still the most popular browser in the world. g.statcounter.com may say otherwise but others such as netappliances say 55% of everyone on the net including tablet and phone users use Internet Explorer.

    Regardless you can't ignore it. If IE wont support it you can't use it PERIOD. Until IE gets below 5% marketshare no sane business will dare cut them off. IT would be like owning a restaurant and telling 1 out of 10 users to leave and go fuck themselves. You will be out of business fast.

    So this is a big deal if MS is being evil or maybe brilliant if the standard actually works and Mozilla copies it. FYI webkit supports this standard too as Chrome already works with it as webRTC still has major hurdles.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Saturday January 19, 2013 @08:26PM (#42636187) Homepage Journal
    WebRTC has Opus, the Open Source audio codec that can outperform MP3 and pretty much any audio codec*. It does seem that the proprietary OS industry will do anything they can to stop open codecs from being net standards.

    * Anything but FLAC and Codec2 (because FLAC doesn't compress and Codec2 is voice-only and ultra-low-bandwidth).

  • by stms (1132653) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @08:49PM (#42636313)

    FLAC does compress it just uses lossless compression.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @09:23PM (#42636449) Journal

    IE is still the most popular browser in the world.

    No it isn't, it fell off that perch years ago. Nobody uses Microsoft's browser by choice. Face it, Microsoft's sun is setting. Don't let the chair hit you on the way out.

    I think statistics say otherwise [arstechnica.com]. Remember, most people do not hang out on slashdot and are into browsers. Ask any webmaster here who writes internet sites that average people or businesses use? They will say 50 to 60% still use IE. It still sets the standards if you want to be paid by anyone to attract users sadly.

    Remember these users are grandmas, 40 year old moms, accountants in the office with locked computers, redneck Joe Six Packs, and little kids at home whose teacher showed them that little blue e = internet. Not techies. Which browser do you think they use? I give you a little hint? It is the one they are familiar with that they use at work or school. Sometimes they geeky smart nephew will introduce this foxfire thingie for many ... but not everyone.

    Lets say people who are not grayhairs who hate change and are set in their ways decide to switch to Chrome? IE drops to say 10% of users! Can we still ignore it? Still a NO. Unless you want to use my example of telling 1 out of 10 customers to go screw themselves to a client who is paying you the answer is you support it. 5%? Then maybe you can put a polite banner with a link to Chrome or Firefox then.

    Arstechnica, zdnet, slashdot, and engadget are a tiny minority. It is not like the 1990s when the internet was a geek thing.

    Lets hope MS has technical reasons for this as Skype would be better support the w3c standard?

  • Re:Not IE only (Score:4, Informative)

    by Eirenarch (1099517) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @10:12PM (#42636631)

    The issue MS has with WebRTC is that they cannot easily and reliably port the Skype protocol over to WebRTC because WebRTC is relatively high level. They propose lower level API that would allow more kinds of protocols to be implemented. They argue that higher level API would come through libraries. The WebRTC proponents argue that the core use case of WebRTC is browser to browser communication and as such the API should be higher level and if you want to do browser to Skype for example you are screwed. Frankly I think they are full of shit.

  • Re:Old dog (Score:5, Informative)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @10:21PM (#42636665)

    Or 4, they think they can get away with screwing everyone else and taking control of a potentially very lucrative market, like they did with:
    * Internet Explorer and their custom implementations of HTML/CSS
    * Their custom windows-only version of Java
    * OpenXML and their subverting an entire standards body to get it ratified as a 'Standard' just so they could go after special government contracts requiring an open format, without having to give up control of the office suite space.
    * Custom extensions to LDAP to hinder interoperability with Active Directory.
    * Countless other things that anyone could find doing a few searches of Microsoft's history.

    There's a reason Microsoft's catch phrase is "Embrace. Extend. Extinguish." and it's sad that, like an abused spouse, people keep giving Microsoft another chance because, "They will do better this time."

  • Re:Not IE only (Score:4, Informative)

    by Eirenarch (1099517) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @10:48PM (#42636763)

    The WebRTC guys. Lower level API makes more sense in this case for interop with existing apps. The WebRTC guys seem to think that everything should be in the browser anyway so other software be damned.

  • Re:Testing is key (Score:4, Informative)

    by SQLGuru (980662) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @12:06AM (#42636991) Journal

    Look up the various implementations of the standards for dealing with the offline manifest file. In this particular case, Mozilla actually caches the file (which defeats the purpose of having the offline manifest triggering updates) and Chrome and IE don't. You basically have to reconfigure your server to work around Mozilla's interpretation of the standard.

    It's not only the definition of the standard, but the interpretation of the standard by each browser......and then the interpretation by the developer coding to a standard.

  • by yourlord (473099) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @01:16AM (#42637309) Homepage

    Bruce, Microsoft contributed the SILK codec used in Skype to the Opus project and released any related patents royalty free. I would have a hard time trusting MS if they told me the sky was blue, but they basically made the low bitrate capability of Opus legally doable.

    As for those who are posting their scepticism about the opus codec's quality, the IETF standardised Opus as RFC 6716 and is making it a mandatory to implement codec for WebRTC based on it's proven performance at every applicable bitrate.

    For quality comparison info:
    http://opus-codec.org/comparison/ [opus-codec.org]

    RFC 6716:
    http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6716 [ietf.org]

  • Re:Old dog (Score:2, Informative)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOspaM.hotmail.com> on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:51AM (#42638191) Journal

    I mean seriously, make them promise it will be open to all and if ever patented, an unrestricted license will be issued for commercial and private use including derivative uses (cams and other equipment) as long as it is a standard.

    They can't.

    At heart, the difference between Microsoft's "standard" and the real one is how to support video codecs. The World Wide Web Consortium and most other stakeholders want the specification to include an open, royalty free codec. Microsoft and Apple want to be able to use any codec, including patent-encumbered ones like H264. Any standard lacking an open codec would allow vendors to restrict interoperability (eg, with free implementations whose developers can't pay the licensing fees). There are other differences, but the codec issue is there the danger lies. https://plus.google.com/111991826926222544385/posts/MjQykqkJA4v [google.com]

    It's another attempt to Balkanise the browser market.

One man's constant is another man's variable. -- A.J. Perlis

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