Skype continues to go its own way (this time with video codecs)

Summary:Skype, which still is not officially part of Microsoft, is continuing to make its own policy and strategy decisions which may or may not mesh with Microsoft's own directions.

Skype -- which still is not officially part of Microsoft -- isn't in twiddle-your-thumbs mode as the antitrust scrutiny process for the acquisition continues.

In fact, Skype is continuing to roll out updates to its existing services on a variety of Microsoft and non-Microsoft platforms, including, as of this week, the iPad. It also is continuing to make some policy and strategy decisions which seemingly could conflict with Microsoft's own.

Case in point: Skype's decision to make Google's open-source VP8 video codec its default for both one-on-one and group video calls, as reported on August 3 by GigaOm. The recently-finalized Skype for Windows client 5.5 uses VP8 as long as other participants are using the same version. Skype already was using VP8 for group video calls since late last year, but the one-on-one component is new, GigaOm reported.

V8 is part of WebM. In an August 3 post to the WebM Project blog, Product Manager John Luther noted that "Skype was one of the earliest supporters of VP8, and we're really excited that millions more of their users will experience the superior quality and performance of VP8 video calling."

As Microsoft watchers may recall, Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) team has been not so bullish about VP8 and WebM. The company's official position, as reiterated by an Internet Explorer spokesperson via e-mail today is:

Microsoft is "committed to providing IE users the best web experience on Windows. We support all video codecs – IE9 supports playback of H.264 video from the gate, and also supports VP8 and WebM video when the user has installed third party support."

Microsoft officials have suggested that VP8 is more of a security risk than H.264. They've also been openly critical -- as have many -- that Google is removing H.264 support from its own products.

Skype is a peer-to-peer-based service. It will be interesting to see how and if Microsoft changes the underlying Skype infrastructure once Skype becomes part of Microsoft and the Redmondians begin offering Skype integration for Windows Phone, Xbox Live, Live Messenger Hotmail, Lync and other Microsoft products and services....

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Social Enterprise

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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