On Monday, Microsoft introduced its own WebRTC proposal to the W3C WebRTC working group called "Customizable, Ubiquitous Real Time Communication over the Web," or rather, CU-RTC-Web. It's a step towards bringing real-time VoIP communication -- AKA Skype -- to a variety of browsers without the need for an application or plug-in. It's also aimed to be more flexible and customizable than versions currently offered by Google and Mozilla.
"It is designed to honor the key tenets of the web architecture, it supports a customizable response to changing network quality, ubiquitous deployability on existing network infrastructure, and flexibility in supporting popular media formats and codecs, as well as openness to future innovation," reads the specification's abstract."
Microsoft claims the existing WebRTC proposal falls short as it shows no signs of offering real world interoperability with existing VoIP phones, and mobile phones from behind firewalls and across routers. Instead, the current version -- which is already supported by Firefox, Opera and Chrome -- focuses on video communication between web browsers under ideal conditions, and doesn't allow an application to control how media is transmitted on the network.
Matthew Kaufman, principal architect for Microsoft-Skype on WebRTC, told GigaOM that the existing WebRTC proposal is working to create a black box within the browser: everything is pre-determined from the way media is sent over the network to what codec needs to be used, leaving little room for optimization. However Microsoft's CU-RTC-Web proposal offers the customization and flexibility developers need while also supporting legacy devices.
Kaufman also pointed out that Google and Mozilla want to lock down their specifications to the VP8 video codec open sourced by Google back in 2010. Microsoft doesn't want to take that route, stating that "a successful standard cannot be tied to individual codecs, data formats or scenarios." Instead, CU-RTC-Web will support a number of "popular media formats and codecs as well as openness to future innovation."
In Microsoft's blog post on Monday, the company highlighted the three main features of its new proposal offers:
* It adds a real-time, peer-to-peer transport layer that empowers web developers by having greater flexibility and transparency.
* It dispenses with the constraints imposed by unnecessary state machines and complex SDP and provides simple, transparent objects.
* It builds on and integrates with the existing W3C getUserMedia API, making it possible for an application to connect a microphone or a camera in one browser to the speaker or screen of another browser.
"We are looking forward to continued work in the IETF and the W3C, with an open and fruitful conversation that converges on a standard that is both future-proof and an answer to today’s communication needs on the web," Microsoft said on Monday. "We would love to get community feedback on the details of our CU-RTC-Web proposal document and we invite you to stay tuned for additional content that we will soon publish on http://html5labs.com in support of our proposal."
To read Microsoft's CU-RTC-Web proposal to the W3C, head here.