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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

  • 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.
  • 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 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:15PM (#40952219)

    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 Billly Gates (198444) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:18PM (#40952235) Journal

    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 though we used Firefox?!

  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:57PM (#40952657)

    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.

    Bullshit.

    Google has an interest in the web working with Google.

    If they could do that and exclude Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple - they would.

    Don't think so?

    Of Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, which one owns a private jumbo jet?

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @07:25PM (#40952927)

    The US picked NTSC when Pal was clearly the superior standard.

    That's a laugh. Both formats make a tradeoff in one area or another. In no way is PAL defacto better.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@nOs ... t-retrograde.com> on Friday August 10, 2012 @11:15PM (#40954415)

    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.

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

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