Microsoft hiring points to Web-based Skype service

It looks like Microsoft is ready to let people use Skype through Web apps, not just native apps. Standards in development such as WebRTC could pave the way.

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Stephen Shankland
2 min read

Microsoft is hiring staff "to help us bring Skype experience on to the Web," a move that could help people use the Internet-based video and audio chat service more broadly.

Skype's VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) service today requires a native app to run on various operating systems. A browser-based version, though, could bring the service to OSes that aren't supported, such as Google's Chrome OS; make it easier for people to use Skype on a machine for which they don't have installation privileges; and potentially integrate with other Web-based services.

Microsoft revealed the project through at least four job ads. One of them reads:

Team Rendezvous at Skype is looking for passionate, team-oriented and self-motivated developers to help us bring Skype experience on to the Web. You will have a chance to integrate existing Skype solutions onto the Web with the support of the back-end services build from the ground up using latest Microsoft technologies. Result of your work will be used by hundreds millions of thankful users worldwide.

One question is the underlying technology Microsoft might choose to support for the service. Google has been working on a project called WebRTC geared for Web-based chat services, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is working on making it into a standard. Google is building WebRTC into Chrome using the VP8 video codec to compress video, and conveniently, Skype apps today use VP8.

However, Skype's VP8 use predated Microsoft's acquisition of the VoIP service provider, and Microsoft hasn't been convinced enough of its freedom from patent encumbrances to support it in Windows or Internet Explorer. In addition, many more mobile phones can decode video using the rival H.264 video codec with hardware acceleration faster and with less battery power usage. VP8 hardware support is spreading gradually but it isn't yet common.

Via LiveSide and Engadget