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Microsoft Going Its Own Way On Audio/Video Specification 215

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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 19, 2013 @09:01PM (#42636367)

    I've been balls deep in WebRTC server-side implementation for 2 months, and oh my god THE HORROR. I'll try to keep this short.

    A bunch of telephony stalwarts were brought together to come up with some standards for interoperable, extendable, browser-based real-time media communications. To achieve this aim, they've taken several dozen existing standards & RFCs, and extended / contorted / selectively ignored / creatively implemented them such that they've inherited two decades of digital telephony industry technical debt, gaining absolutely nothing in return.

    The bar of implementation has been set so high and so complex the average would-be WebRTC-endpoint-compatible implementor has very little hope of achieving anything without wholesale drinking of the kool-aid. Forget lightweight implementations, and forget being able to innovate around the technology. They've focused purely on the peer-to-peer aspect, entirely neglecting anybody who might want to create more complex topologies and server-side functionality.

    The W3C need to reassess their decision to burden everybody with finnicky, complicated, nuanced, potholed standards born in a different time, where connectivity, devices, usage patterns and scalability were all nothing like they are today. They need to take stock of the number of design decisions they've made which fundamentally break compatibility with other implementations of the standards they've chosen. They need to realise this is all completely pointless work: they could have truly revolutionised this shit, for fucks sake!

    As for Microsoft's direction: they seem to be attempting to address a few of these issues, but they've also committed the sin of overcompicating the fuck out of it.

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @10:01PM (#42636597) Homepage Journal

    In the post Flash era we are taking HUGE steps back. In-browser support for Video Codecs are neither here nor there, where we quite literally have to encode to two or even three standards. But, at least we have Wowza that can stream to various standards and Codecs. Audio is no better, with Google and Apple are using the Web Audio API while Firefox is committed to the Audio Data API, which has NOTHING in common with the Webkit standard. And the built in audio player on the Android Browser? WHAT. A. FUCKING. JOKE. And of course Apple's "HTTP Live Streaming" is NOT at all suited for actual Live Streaming. The latency is terrible!

    And then we have Real Time Communication, an area that Flash excelled at with and RTMP and AMF, as well as various servers such as FMS, Wowza and SmartFox capable of facilitating chat rooms, multi-player games, even MMORPGs.

    Getting data and devices streaming FROM THE BROWSER just isn't there. The support is incomplete, undecided and very much in flux. We are quite literally still a few years out from a standard and usable platform across browsers. And now we have Microsoft wading in to offer what will surely be a typical Proprietary Solution only available to Microsoft Partners and Licensees.

    Frankly, this rush to kill Flash has been a self-centered money grab to try to take away the video market from Adobe and HAS FUCKED the users, leaving them with a broken internet and competing standards.

    The hype of HTML5 has been years coming, with Steve Jobs and legions of techies on slashdot and other sites calling for the death of Flash.
    Yet here we are, years out and we don't have anywhere near what we had with Multi-Media and Real Time Communication in 2005 with Flash.

    How anyone can sit here and look at the current state of affairs and not see it as a monumental clusterfuck that is HOLDING BACK the progress and innovation we were promised with HTML5 is beyond me.

  • by Eirenarch ( 1099517 ) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @10:27PM (#42636681)

    According to some articles I've read it is very hard to port the Skype protocol (or other protocols) to WebRTC because WebRTC is relatively high level. MS's proposal is for a lower level API that would allow different protocols to be implemented over it including Skype. They argue that higher level API would be provided through libraries.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner