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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 MightyMartian (840721) on Friday August 10, 2012 @06:22PM (#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.

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

    by farble1670 (803356) on Friday August 10, 2012 @07:26PM (#40953389)

    i've seen this problem in a lot of software projects. two competing ideas ... one is implemented, one is on paper. guess what? the one on paper is always better. of course it is, since it doesn't exist, it can solve any problem.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday August 10, 2012 @09:31PM (#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 roca (43122) on Friday August 10, 2012 @09:33PM (#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".

  • by nyquil superstar (249173) <aaron&snowcrest,net> on Friday August 10, 2012 @10:26PM (#40954483)
    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 shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday August 10, 2012 @10:48PM (#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 Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @05:04AM (#40955731)
    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 radar.

    Tomorrows technology (HEVC aka H.265) is just around the corner and is significantly better than either VP8 or H.264, and its really a shame that any standard could be considered that rules out the use of either it or other next-generation codecs. I dont know what the folks at the W3C are doing.. I really don't. Its insane politicking that hurts us all. Just allow any codec, for christ sakes! This isnt a hard decision unless you have ulterior motives.

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