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Microsoft Picks Another Web Standards Fight 211

Posted by Soulskill
from the dem's-fightin'-woids dept.
mikejuk writes "WebRTC is a way to allow browsers to get in touch with one another using audio or video data without the help of a server. Google has been something of a pioneer in this area, and submitted a suggested technology for the standard. Mozilla has gone along with it, making it all look good. Microsoft, on the other hand, just seemed to be standing on the sidelines, watching what was happening. However, Microsoft now has a product that needs something like WebRTC; namely, Skype. It has been working on a web-based version of Skype and this has focused the collective mind on the problems of browser-to-browser communication. It now agrees that a standard is needed, just not the one Google and Mozilla are behind. Microsoft has submitted its own proposals for CU-RTC-Web or Customizable, Ubiquitous Real Time Communication over the Web, to the W3C. It may well be that Microsoft's alternative has features that make it superior, but a single standard is preferable to a better non-standard. Given Microsoft's need to make Skype work in the browser, it seems likely that, should its proposal not be accepted as the standard, it will press on regardless, thus splitting the development environment. Both Google and Mozilla have already put a lot of work into WebRTC, and there are partial implementations in Firefox, Chrome and Opera."
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Microsoft Picks Another Web Standards Fight

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  • by rts008 (812749) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:08PM (#40952131) Journal

    Color me surprised. /sarcasm

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:11PM (#40952171) Journal

      But this isn't 1998 any more. It's not even 2005. Microsoft no longer has the web dominance to force standards on anyone. If it goes it alone, it risks everyone else saying "Fuck you", and if Chrome and Safari won't support whatever Microsoft cooks up, it has at least a half way chance of crapping out.

      Yes, Microsoft can still pull shit with document standards, but that's because it still has a massive advantage as far as office applications go, but the days of 90%+ Internet Explorer on the Internet are gone, and gone for good.

      • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:51PM (#40952595)

        Indeed, witness Silverlight. I can't wait for the accepted standard to be implemented in browsers though, it opens a whole world of possibilities.

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday August 10, 2012 @07:15PM (#40952819) Journal

        The simple question is: is the existing standard good enough? In other words, can Skype (or analogous software) be written in it?

        If yes, then the standard angle can be reasonably angled, and Chrome+Firefox together certainly hold more than enough sway to do so. But if not, then the winner will be whoever delivers the product; end users don't care about standards, they just want things to work, and if only one guy has it work, well...

        That said, I don't know anything about either WebRTC or this new thing. On the other hand, I do recall Chrome bugging me to install an extension if I wanted to use voice & video chat in GMail and G+, which does not inspire confidence (unless that extension is actually an implementation of WebRTC). Anyone more familiar with it care to comment?

        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday August 10, 2012 @07:22PM (#40952901) Journal

          If yes, then the standard angle can be reasonably angled, and Chrome+Firefox together certainly hold more than enough sway to do so. But if not, then the winner will be whoever delivers the product; end users don't care about standards, they just want things to work, and if only one guy has it work, well...

          Again, that's 2005 thinking. All things being equal, with most of the web access via PCs running Windows, you bet, competition didn't have a chance in hell. If Browser A couldn't support it at all, then Internet Explorer would win by default.

          But we're living in an age where a growing amount of web usage is not by PC, but by tablets, phones and other smart devices. The bulk of these devices, in fact the overwhelming majority of these devices do not run Internet Explorer, and even the most favorable projections do not show Microsoft making that big a dent in the mobile market to make IE the only meaningful player again.

          The days when Microsoft could just give the rest of the browser makers a one-fingered salute, go it's merry way and know that it had already won before the fight broke out are done. There will be no more Internet Explorer 6s. Microsoft cannot afford to isolate itself by pushing a standard that no one else will or can support. Customers are not going to ditch their $700 tablets or phones just because Microsoft refuses to talk.

          • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday August 10, 2012 @07:35PM (#40953019) Journal

            IE has absolutely nothing to do with. Nor does any other particular browser or company.

            What matters is the product, which in this case is a web-based implementation of voice/video chat. Out of the two proposed standards, the one that can actually be used to implement the product that users want, will win. Indirectly, the browsers supporting that standard will also win by being slightly more useful.

            And note that there are already examples of browsers being used to push standard proposals after 2005. For example, part of the reason why I switched to Chrome is because it implemented the desktop notification HTML5 API (which originated as a Google proposal) early on, and Google added support for those notifications in GMail. So, for a while, Chrome was the only browser where you'd get popups for new mail when using GMail web interface. Eventually it became an HTML5 standard and other browsers picked it up.

            Same thing here. Whoever does it right (or rather good enough), gets to promote it to an actual HTML5 standard. I don't much care if it's Google or MS or Apple or whoever, so long as the result is actually useful and not crippled. But if the existing thing that Google pushes for is crippled, it won't take off, and thankfully so.

            • What matters is the product, which in this case is a web-based implementation of voice/video chat. Out of the two proposed standards, the one that can actually be used to implement the product that users want, will win.

              Then by your logic, MS will use Skype to win this standard war... Which I agree is probably the case, and also why I said "Fuck you" to building anything on top of browsers a long time ago. Native applications are where it's at. This way, when MS wins, and FF can't work around some patent BS, then I can still just keep using classic NAT traversal like STUN and TURN, and ignore all this bullshit.

              What we need is an open platform to develop applications on -- A shitty document display mark up language and a horrid scripting language are what we have to work with. It's really a shame that Java dropped the ball.

              It takes me OVER SIX TIMES AS LONG to write a HTML5 web app than to make the same app as a native program on Android (ARM), x86 / x64 windows, iOS, OSX, Linux (and BSD). Cross platform tool-chains exist -- The web only wishes it were one. Long Live The Internet, fuck the web.

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                Oh to have mod points. HTML5 and JS (and let's not forget to throw CSS on top) are so awful, it's ridiculous. Couldn't agree with you more.
                • by BenoitRen (998927)

                  They're awesome technologies that are often bashed by people who don't make an effort to work with them. Not everything is easy.

              • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday August 10, 2012 @11:48PM (#40954591) Journal

                What we need is an open platform to develop applications on -- A shitty document display mark up language and a horrid scripting language are what we have to work with. It's really a shame that Java dropped the ball.

                Have a look at Qt and QML. It's not quite there yet, but it's looking to be everything that WPF promised back in the day, plus openness and portability, and it's actually being actively developed.

              • by BenoitRen (998927)

                A shitty document display mark up language and a horrid scripting language are what we have to work with. It's really a shame that Java dropped the ball.

                HTML isn't shit. But it is designed to display documents, not applications.

                JavaScript is awesome, actually. It's a very misunderstood language. Maybe you just suck at it?

              • by jmerlin (1010641)
                I'd argue if that's the case, you're doing it wrong. Java was designed to be ubiquitous and to provide that write-once-run-everywhere capability that we needed, but hasn't succeeded arguably one of the worst languages ever created (weak typing, too!). Surely there's something bigger here than you or others are willing to admit.

                You mention tool-chains, but it appears implicit that you haven't noticed that same trend web development. It's moving away from manually using HTML5 APIs, DOM manipulation (bec
            • by Shavano (2541114)

              IE has absolutely nothing to do with. Nor does any other particular browser or company.

              What matters is the product, which in this case is a web-based implementation of voice/video chat. Out of the two proposed standards, the one that can actually be used to implement the product that users want, will win. Indirectly, the browsers supporting that standard will also win by being slightly more useful.

              And note that there are already examples of browsers being used to push standard proposals after 2005. For example, part of the reason why I switched to Chrome is because it implemented the desktop notification HTML5 API (which originated as a Google proposal) early on, and Google added support for those notifications in GMail. So, for a while, Chrome was the only browser where you'd get popups for new mail when using GMail web interface. Eventually it became an HTML5 standard and other browsers picked it up.

              Same thing here. Whoever does it right (or rather good enough), gets to promote it to an actual HTML5 standard. I don't much care if it's Google or MS or Apple or whoever, so long as the result is actually useful and not crippled. But if the existing thing that Google pushes for is crippled, it won't take off, and thankfully so.

              Because most devices don't and many can't run Internet Explorer these days, the standard app that runs on an open standard will win. Microsoft will end up supporting the Google/Mozilla solution because their users will want to be interoperable with video chat on Chrome and Firefox (and Safari and Opera and others). They won't risk driving users off their platform by ONLY providing a Microsoft solution.

              • Because most devices don't and many can't run Internet Explorer these days, the standard app that runs on an open standard will win. Microsoft will end up supporting the Google/Mozilla solution because their users will want to be interoperable with video chat on Chrome and Firefox (and Safari and Opera and others). They won't risk driving users off their platform by ONLY providing a Microsoft solution.

                By the same logic, Google/Mozilla won't be able to push their solution, because there are still many users who run IE, and don't care for (or rather don't even know) about other browsers.

                Don't forget Apple, either. They still rule the mobile space, so any solution that won't work there - no matter who offers it - will be crippled from the get go. Of course one can write an app for iOS, but so far Google hasn't been good at that, and I'm not aware of any from Mozilla...

                • by Shavano (2541114)

                  Because most devices don't and many can't run Internet Explorer these days, the standard app that runs on an open standard will win. Microsoft will end up supporting the Google/Mozilla solution because their users will want to be interoperable with video chat on Chrome and Firefox (and Safari and Opera and others). They won't risk driving users off their platform by ONLY providing a Microsoft solution.

                  By the same logic, Google/Mozilla won't be able to push their solution, because there are still many users who run IE, and don't care for (or rather don't even know) about other browsers.

                  Don't forget Apple, either. They still rule the mobile space, so any solution that won't work there - no matter who offers it - will be crippled from the get go. Of course one can write an app for iOS, but so far Google hasn't been good at that, and I'm not aware of any from Mozilla...

                  Google/Mozilla probably won't have to force anything. Apple typically supports open standards and does it early. They'll write their own implementation to avoid liscensing issues, or use a BSD version since they freely cadge BSD code, but your non-Apple browser on the other end won't see any difference. You might not see support for it on phones. I can imagine phone companies objecting to putting a competing (better) service on phones designed to run on their networks and not collecting their usual char

                  • Google/Mozilla probably won't have to force anything. Apple typically supports open standards and does it early.

                    Like WebM?

                    (the one that WebRTC requires as a codec, by the way)

          • Ah; but MS has another monopoly to leverage: Skype is the one video/audio/text conferencing platform that can punch through any firewall and runs on virtually every device with a microphone, speaker and a cpu. They want to be able to offer this as a service. Likely, whatever Skype does to punch through firewalls didn't make it into the Google spec, and MS isn't about to reveal their special sauce.

            • Likely, whatever Skype does to punch through firewalls didn't make it into the Google spec, and MS isn't about to reveal their special sauce.

              Supernodes, or whatever you want to call them. You connect to Skype's servers, rather than P2P.

        • by Eirenarch (1099517) on Friday August 10, 2012 @07:27PM (#40952937)

          There is no "existing standard". There is some work in progress and (according to Ars Techinca's article) MS's proposal has a lot in common with the original work (many APIs are the same). Basically MS's proposal suggest lower level API than the current proposal and does not mandate the usage of any particular codec (HTML5 video style) while Google's proposal mandates VP8 and has some higher level APIs. MS insists that for high quality video there needs to be low level flexibility and that libraries will fill the need for higher level APIs

          • Interesting - looks like Google is trying to get VP8 in as the default available codec for the web, one way or another. They lost the HTML5 codec battle, but are now sneaking it in as a mandatory requirement for another standard...

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Rockoon (1252108)
              Indeed.

              Requiring an open codec is a double-edged sword. On the one hand we all win because its open and free, but on the other we all lose because better codecs that arent open (and this isnt just about H.264) become a non-option and there are plenty of devices that simply don't do VP8 well (no hardware support.)

              It could be argued that VP8 is almost as good as H.264 in terms of quality per bit, but H.264 is *also* yesterdays technology so thats actually arguing about things that shouldnt even be on our
              • by BenoitRen (998927)

                Allowing any codec has consequences, many of them being bad. No thanks.

                Also, you're missing the point when it comes to "better codecs". The web doesn't need the best codec. It needs a codec that is good enough.

        • From the sounds of the article there is no standard yet, just a proposed standard. So what makes MS any worse than Google in this? Is it because Google proposed a standard that fits in with their own technology first? Do people here still think Google is benign? Their standard proposal may be good, but let's not delude ourselves that it doesn't somehow fit in with what they've already developed, just the same as MS. They just made the proposal first. Maybe MS is proposing this because they see Google moving
      • Anyone more familiar with it care to comment?

        ... and I should have just kept [slashdot.org] reading [slashdot.org].

      • by hkmwbz (531650)
        Apple could well join Microsoft just to fuck with Google. And then we have a problem on our hands. Remember how MS and Apple managed to force the proprietary H.264 on the web?
      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        Microsoft thinks that Skype is the Application that will give them this ability again.
        That people will just install whatever they need to to get their Skype on.
        They might be right. Consumers were never much good at making the right decisions.

      • by josepha48 (13953)
        True, on our site IE (7 on up) make up 50% of our traffic and Chrome is about 15% and growing. Safari and iOS Safari (not totally the same thing) make up about another 25% and Firefox has about 15%. However like the video codecs in HTML5 where they split and you have to have video encoded 3 ways I could see MS making us web developers code 2 ways or us having 2 standards.
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        I would argue that with Skype, microsoft's dominance over telephony and conferencing software is even tighter then that over productivity suites with office. Essentially whatever they say, goes.

        Google already tried to tackle skype with google talk. Its installed base is less then a rounding error in comparison to skype numbers.

        So if microsoft makes their own standard and google/mozilla don't adapt it, people will be pissed at google/mozilla for skype not working in their browser but working fine in IE.

  • Here's a thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WizADSL (839896) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:09PM (#40952149)
    Why not go with the best overall standard regardless of who introduced it and whether or not it was the first. Now this doesn't mean I'm for or against either standard, it just seems that the assumption is that it should be ignored because it wasn't first and because Microsoft introduced it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem, is technology moves to fast, there's ALWAYS something better. At some point you need to pick a standard... Microsoft is just trying to change the game to their advantage (as is normal for them).

      • by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday August 11, 2012 @01:12AM (#40954913) Homepage Journal

        The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from. - Andrew S. Tanenbaum

        Microsoft wields standards like an axe to lay low their foes. They are the natural enemy of interoperability - a company that built its business on being incompatible with everything they want to dominate, one corner at a time. Here, for example, [groklaw.net] is them talking about leveraging standards to dominate Novell, from the documents disclosed in Comes v. Microsoft [groklaw.net]

        Microsoft got their ExFAT format accepted as a standard volume format for SD and its derivatives, and now use it to extort broad patent portfolio licensing from Android manufacturers [pcworld.com] because if it supports SDHC or uSDHC with a reasonable media size, the Android device must support ExFAT or it won't be compatible with cameras and other devices that use it. That's a clever strategy for Microsoft, but not a smart one for people who made the format standard because it ultimately makes the standard a dead end.

        People who just want to move pictures from the camera to the tablet on the card must pay more now for the tablet, or buy the Microsoft supported tablet and we know what those are like. Ultimately it's destructive to the standard and costly to consumers as uSDHC BOM costs $0.07 to implement and the patent portfolio license demanded is more like $15-25 - we can't even be sure exactly what the price is as they won't even negotiate a license except under NDA. Naturally this leads to innovative devices like the Nexus 7 omitting external storage support entirely and holds back progress in the field. It encourages wifi-attached cameras to avoid the problem. The standard becomes a trap that allows one participant in the market to control its direction. Obviously this is not the purpose of standards.

        Post the OOXML debacle [groklaw.net] this is well understood, and nobody who wants their standard taken seriously would align with Microsoft. The ISO may take a decade to repair the damage from that one [slashdot.org] where resources deployed to put over the standard involved not just dirty dealing, but deploying such heavy hitters as heads of state.

        Microsoft is no longer the 800lb gorilla of IT, casting the long shadow they once did. Even Apple swings more weight than them now. Android phones moved more units and profits than their Windows PC OEMs did last quarter. They don't get to make the rules any more. For the rest of us that's a good thing because they really suck at it. It's like playing Calvinball with Calvin, or any game with a six-year-old: rule 1 is they always get to win.

        /Why yes, I did hide this comment down low in the thread on purpose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Billly Gates (198444)

      Why not go with the best overall standard regardless of who introduced it and whether or not it was the first. Now this doesn't mean I'm for or against either standard, it just seems that the assumption is that it should be ignored because it wasn't first and because Microsoft introduced it.

      We did that. The answer was IE 6. Remember those days?

      It is hated now especially on Slashdot but at the time it had the best box model, best implementation of javascript, and of course specific css sheets with proprietary values were the best of the best 10 years ago. When the world and the W3C decided to do things differently we ended up with a world wide web that was optimized for just that one browser at that one version, where we got an error message saying Netscape isn't supported ... even thou

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        That's only valid if it's a completely open standard. It needs to be completely open right from the beginning, otherwise it's meaningless ... promises won't cut it. Is FaceTime an open standard as promised?

        • That's only valid if it's a completely open standard. It needs to be completely open right from the beginning, otherwise it's meaningless ... promises won't cut it. Is FaceTime an open standard as promised?

          Exactly! Which was the point of not letting make the best man win approach as it leads to problems 11 years later with poor saps supporting their pages still to that old standard that really was not a standard.

          IE 6 really was ahead of Netscape for many years. Mozilla had the same bugs netscape had and it took awhile before Firefox was ready and even firefox failed the acid tests too until about 2.0 if I recall right. That leaves 6 years for IE 6 that mucked up everything.

          Today we can't implement all the htm

          • by symbolset (646467) *
            Microsoft has inserted some operatives into W3schools, and they're causing this problem. They will be rooted out.
            • by Kalriath (849904)

              Good thing a random HTML tutorial site has precisely fuck all relevance to anyone then.

      • by symbolset (646467) *

        Selecting the best software solution for line of business applications requires some foresight. If the software selection involves chewing your leg off to escape its trap prior to your retirement date, you don't want it as it will impede your quiet contemplation of life's purpose while killing salmonids in your declining years. IE6 and its .NET server complements turned into such a trap and ruined many a career - and is still doing so.

        Youth imagine themselves wiser than their elders having fresh insight,

    • Define "best"....
      • by wamatt (782485) *

        >Define "best"....

        The standard that offers the most pleasing experience to the broadest number of browser users.

        • by swillden (191260)

          Define "most pleasing", and specify how you're going to measure "broadest".

          • Broadest will be measured by which protocol is used to implement Skype first.

            most pleasing adj. - Consistently giving the most head.

    • Why not go with the best overall standard regardless of who introduced it and whether or not it was the first. Now this doesn't mean I'm for or against either standard, it just seems that the assumption is that it should be ignored because it wasn't first and because Microsoft introduced it.

      because at some point, you need to say "good enough for version 1.0" and move forward with an implementation. google and firefox have already done this. should they back up and re-write their impls because someone came along with something better (on paper)?

      there's always 2.0, and MSFT should be getting involved in the existing standard to influence the 2.0 effort to get the features they need.

      • because at some point, you need to say "good enough for version 1.0" and move forward with an implementation. google and firefox have already done this. should they back up and re-write their impls because someone came along with something better (on paper)?

        If a browser is going to implement non-standard stuff, then yes they should rewrite it when the standard proves to be something different. If the roles were reversed and it was Internet Explorer that had the non-standard elements, then nobody would argue that their ideas should automatically adopted by the W3C just because they had already made the implementation.

        there's always 2.0, and MSFT should be getting involved in the existing standard to influence the 2.0 effort to get the features they need.

        But surely that is exactly what Microsoft are doing, except that the standard is nowhere near 1.0 so that is the milestone they want to influence.

    • by Dishevel (1105119)

      Because there will always be a better standard.
      If you do not set a decent standard and stick with it you have no standard. That is usually bad.

      By the way. Oblig XKCD [xkcd.com].

    • Re:Here's a thought (Score:4, Informative)

      by sjames (1099) on Friday August 10, 2012 @10:14PM (#40954101) Homepage

      They are. MS's proposal would require royalty payments for H.264 while Google and Mozilla are using VP8.

    • Little Endian or Big Endian? Which is the better standard? Why?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:15PM (#40952215)

    Do you even know how standards work? They don't just get pulled out someones ass and then bam everyone implements it.
    Everyone makes suggestions and they implement some ideas and see what needs to be done to improve on it, and this loops until it is completed.

    Neither Google or Microsoft have created a standard, they have created a possible standard. A proposal. Nothing more.
    Saying non-standard is completely ignorant to the situation at hand.

    There is nothing stating that the entire thing is just going to fall apart in a huge mess.
    They likely follow very similar methods that can be implemented in more-or-less the same way.
    In fact, both could be combined to create a better standard overall. (and I am sure there was a very good feature in Microsofts implementation that was completely missing from the Google proposal)
    Remember, Microsoft also gave you XMLHTTPRequest.
    They aren't completely useless. Ignoring them because they slowed down the evolution of the web for a decade is still awful and unfair, regardless of how much we hate them for it. Given they actually put in some effort to IE10 this time, and "Metro", they might actually give a damn about the web now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Nerdfest (867930)

      They only give a damn about 'Metro' because they get a cut of every program sold for it.

    • by ErnoWindt (301103) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:33PM (#40952401)

      Absolutely correct. The logic of mikejuk's argument is so flawed is hard to know where to begin. Google isn't just proposing standards because they're nice folks who want everyone to work happily together. Google, like Microsoft, is a huge for-profit behemoth whose goal is domination of the markets they are in and any others they can get into. Doubtless Google has some product(s) of its own that require, or may require such a standard and, not being fools, they realize that hiding behind the figleaf of Mozilla and pretending to be nice will buy them some cred in the open-source world. Microsoft pulls stuff like that only when it thinks it needs to. The W3C will most likely cull what is best from both proposals, have lots of meetings, and come up with something that everyone can live with. That's one way standards come into being.

      • by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:51PM (#40952589)

        Google also has an interest in the web being open. If everything moves into walled gardens (Facebook, smartphone apps, etc) it loses advertising revenue. Its interests align with those of us who don't want to be stuck in walled gardens.

        • Google has an interes for open web standards, because they are web service providers, and develop web based apps. A standardized web, means it's easier to develop those products. So it's not out of the goodness of their hard that they want an open web, it's because it suits them better.

          • by symbolset (646467) *

            Of course we aren't obligated to use Google's services unless they are better. We are obligated to use software that embraces one standard or another. So by embracing open standards anybody can use Google is avoiding the standard "capture the customer" logic and pursuing a "promote progress and always excel" strategy that expresses confidence in their ability to do services better than anybody while improving standards to deliver new levels of progress in UI.

            I'm OK with that. That works for me.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        Of course Microsoft will implement their version of RTC in IE10/11 and once the W3C gets the spec nailed down it will have to wait until IE12 to be implemented, requiring people wanting to support IE to code against Microsoft's beta spec until Windows 7 has been EOL'd because backporting those changes would be an unbearable burden on Microsoft. If we're lucky we might get a polyfill we have to manually track down and include.

        On the other hand the web developers' infatuation with using -webkit-* (and other
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Everyone makes suggestions and they implement some ideas and see what needs to be done to improve on it, and this loops until it is completed.

      In theory; yes, in practice; no.
      Most standards come from one party (sometimes even a single person) providing the bulk of the standard, than other parties just "debug" the standard.
      In reality, idealized design-by-commity just takes too long to be of any value.

  • From the description, ill pass. Just sounds like another way to eat our personal bandwidth and add more local attack vectors.

  • Oh and VHS-C v. Super8. (I picked VHS-C.) This is hardly news anymore. It's what companies do in order to gain an advantage over other companies. Nor is it just "the evil" Microsoft.

    Google tried to hijack the internet video standard not too long ago. Everybody was already using MPEG4/h.264 online & in their portable iPods, but suddenly Google decided to introduce WebM and throw things into chaos. To quote the /. summary: "A single standard is preferable to a better non-standard," whether it's bet

    • by symbolset (646467) *

      Google paid $133M for ON2 [wikipedia.org] and then open sourced their only product and gave it away for free to everyone in the world - not just the compiled proprietary CODEC: the source code, the patents and everything. Those bastards! How DARE they give us a free video format that anybody can implement without asking permission, with examples even.

      Don't they know there are incumbent video CODEC providers who use their ownership of many patents to prevent free platforms that prevent display of compressed video to prot

  • Here is an example of a Chrome [exquisiteforest.com] only website? Notice it is fully HTML 5 compliant but the implementation is not standardized yet so the css 3 all have similar functionalities so they get a checkmark at www.html5test.com, but in reality it might as well be IE 6 all over again. That html 5 and css 3 is not w3c standardized.

    Webkite css 3 is different than Microsofts which is also different from Gecko's. Until the W3C starts leading and defining standards I do not think it is evil of MS this time around because

    • Agreed. They should have taken a page from EVERY SOFTWARE DEV, and chopped each milestone into roughly twice as many with half as many goals: Kilometerstones.

      It's taken so damn long (over 8 years) for HTML5 to get here that everyone's moved on to Apps, because:
      0. Javascript is shite at everything from performance to scalability.
      1. We need standards we can use, no one gives a fuck how broken they are -- That's what next version is for, you can't perfect shit.
      2. Cross platform toolchains exist for n

  • Microsoft is correct (Score:4, Informative)

    by rabtech (223758) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:35PM (#40952425) Homepage

    Google's WebRTC proposal is very narrowly tailored, relies on stateful SIP, and is tied to their WebM video standard.

    Microsoft's proposal is more flexible, stateless, simpler to implement, and is more "web-ish", eg: Relying on an exchange where my browser says "I can accept h264, webm, mpeg2" and the baby monitor says "I speak h264" so we use negotiated h264.

    Basically Microsoft is saying that we should adopt a standard that makes it easy to interact with non-browser devices, phone/cell networks, etc. We should also make the API easier to use and stateless. The original WebRTC proposal is only concerned with letting Google+ users video-chat with other Google+ users and it shows.

    I would urge you to go read the actual proposals before commenting on this:
    Microsoft: http://html5labs.com/cu-rtc-web/cu-rtc-web.htm [html5labs.com]
    Google's http://dev.w3.org/2011/webrtc/editor/webrtc.html [w3.org]

    I would also point out that Microsoft is following the correct W3C procedure by making a proposal and asking for comments. In the past they would have just shipped it in IE and/or rolled it out automatically to all Windows users, thus making their standard the de-facto standard. We should reward this kind of participation and interaction, not condemn it.

    I would also point out that Microsoft invented AJAX by just rolling out their own standard... the same way JSON was invented. Design by committee sucks in most cases and we'd be far better served by selecting from competing proposals or merging two competing proposals rather than requiring 15 people to sit down and agree on the definition of the draft standard of the proposal to consider altering the document title.

    • by roca (43122) on Friday August 10, 2012 @10:33PM (#40954219) Homepage

      You've copied Microsoft's talking points but they, and you, don't make sense. For example, both of the existing proposals are codec-agnostic. The codec discussion is important and ongoing but entirely independent of anything addressed by Microsoft's proposal.

      >>> I would also point out that Microsoft is following the correct W3C procedure by making a proposal and asking for comments.
      Being uninvolved in the public working group for two years, giving no feedback, and then suddenly dumping an entirely different proposal into the group with no warning (less than a week after the last IETF meeting) is not "correct procedure".

    • That's all we need to know to know that its purpose is to support Microft's desire to control everything on Earth.

      Microsoft used procedures to good effect to disable even ISO - the arbiter of procedure controls - in their OOXML battle. There comes a time when you have to accept you're dealing with the devil - and he cheats and lies. He is in fact the father of lies, but he can be persuasive.

      Your "Microsoft invented" paragraph I'm just going to point out that it's both untrue and indicative of a desire t

  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:36PM (#40952447) Homepage

    ok, it's funny, because i've just been reviewing WebRTC. i was extremely excited to hear about it. i've been setting up videoconferencing systems on and off for some time. they've *always* had to be flash-based. if you've ever set up red5, you'll know it's a dog. now there's crtmpserver and there's even rtmplite and siprtmp: http://code.google.com/p/siprtmp/ [google.com] - i just managed to get this to work a couple of days ago, with yate, thanks to the help of the people on freenode, in #yate

    the problem with flash is this: back in 2008, flash was reasonably stable. but now, it's an absolute dog. flash under macosx on google chrome runs audio in "dalek" fashion. flash under gnu/linux, if ever you enable the webcam you *will* end up with an instant crash, because the video is read into a buffer that's the wrong size (you can see the picture jumping all over the place before the crash occurs).

    and webex? i'd never heard of it until a couple of weeks ago: that crashes, too: at least once every 30 minutes. and you have to pay for it. also, it's a plugin that's only available for macosx and windows.

    the bottom line is that the state of videoconferencing - ubiquitous videoconferencing that's easy to use - is in pretty deep shit. so i was *delighted* to hear of WebRTC.

    unfortunately... *sigh* this was only about an hour ago... i spoke to the implementors on #webrtc about the standard, after finding that there's no way to select the microphone or the output. their response: we're not interested in listening to you. we are going to make this "secure". we have no interest in doing what everyone else in the industry has done. security is the absolute top priority.

    so what that means is: if you create a phone call application, and you want the sound of the call to go out over speakers, and the call to come in on headphones - tough shit. why? because they want to make the *browser* UI (not a javascript API) select the audio output device - singular. likewise, if you wish to select different microphones - tough shit. why? because they want the *browser* UI to select one and *only* one mic source.

    the reason stated (only about an hour ago)? "security". it's "not secure" to give information to web browsers, because people *might* write applications that abuse that information.

    the fact that people *already* abuse cookies to track people very very accurately, and the fact that a UI popup could be made which says "do you wish to give this web site access to the list of audio devices?" then "do you wish to give this web site access to audio device N" were completely ignored.

    so the opportunity to level the playing field - to take over the monopoly that flash has had for decades, and that skype has had for almost a decade - is being lost *not* by the WebRTC technology but by the people *implementing* that technology.

    if the people implementing WebRTC in google chrome and firefox are the same people behind the WebRTC standard, then i am really not surprised to hear that microsoft is going ahead with an alternative standard.

    much as i don't actually like microsoft's abusive dominance which we've all witnessed over the past two decades, i've spoken to the IE team a couple of times and i know that they really really do a hell of a good job, under difficult high-pressured circumstances: their HTML5 compliance is now second to none, for example, and they *still* get flak for it! :)

    so the opportunity is being lost - by the people behind WebRTC - and i truly hope that microsoft's initiative will give them a good kick up the backside and get them to sort themselves out. sort yourselves out, damnit!

    • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday August 10, 2012 @10:31PM (#40954209) Homepage Journal

      the reason stated (only about an hour ago)? "security". it's "not secure" to give information to web browsers, because people *might* write applications that abuse that information.

      Makes sense to me.

      the fact that a UI popup could be made which says "do you wish to give this web site access to the list of audio devices?" then "do you wish to give this web site access to audio device N" were completely ignored.

      Why would you want to put this into the web site? If the browser is doing the selection, put the device selection in the browser configuration. Done. Users can pick what they want, web sites don't gain any visibility into what user hardware looks like and users don't have the crappy user experience of having every web site implement the device selection in their own unique (and, usually, uniquely brain-dead) way. Of course, if users really like being asked what devices to use every time, there's no reason the browser can't implement that, too, or a browser extension.

      The other arguments about the advantages of Microsoft's format-negotiation protocol over WebRTC's less-flexible may have merit (though the counter-arguments that format negotiation isn't useful without widely-standardized formats also has merit), but your argument is just silly. There are security issues here, and there's nothing a web site could do with respect to device selection that the browser couldn't do just as well -- or better.

      • by mha (1305)

        Hmm let me think - because different applications are for different purposes and therefore one size fits all (you tell the browser running all those apps the ONE configuration that has to fit them all) is not the greatest idea on earth?

  • No doubt they'll be proposing web-drectx which they'll insist is better than webgl.
  • Given Microsoft's need to make Skype work in the browser, it seems likely that, should its proposal not be accepted as the standard, it will press on regardless, thus splitting the development environment.

    wait, i thought as long as everyone supported HTML5 we'd never have any browser compatibility problems again, right?

  • Replacement for skype.

  • by PPH (736903)

    Considering everything else web browsers have their tentacles into these days, why should we welcome more yet to be discovered exploits giving browsers access to things they should not touch?

  • by Anon E. Muss (808473) on Friday August 10, 2012 @09:10PM (#40953689)

    From a purely technical perspective, Microsoft's proposal may actually be the better choice. The problem is that CU-RTC-Web doesn't mandate a codec, and lets the peers negotiate. Microsoft spins this as being flexible, and at a purely technical level, it is. The problem is that if the standard doesn't mandate some reasonable baseline codec, you're going to end up with implementations that can't talk to each other. Microsoft knows this, and they doesn't care.

    Google isn't exactly a Saint either. They know full well that Microsoft and Apple won't implement VP8 (for semi-defensible technical/legal reasons, as well as evil intent). WebRTC with VP8 is unlikely to ever be available on iDevices, and that's a significant chunk of the market. Google knows this, and they don't care.

  • Just say no. Seriously - why don't the people responsible take the past history of those "contributing" into account?

  • Just support both and see which wins, as long as the standards are good ones and not crap like Open XML.

  • This work has been going on at the IETF for about two years now. Skype itself has contributed to the effort (before they were bought), and so did CISCO, Ericsson, and many others. There was always someone from Microsoft in the room too.

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