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

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.

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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 has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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8 comments
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  • RE: Skype continues to go its own way (this time with video codecs)

    Probably another example of Microsoft's professionalism, maturity and wisdom. Google is still wearing nappies and I really doubt they will grow beyond that.
    owlnet
  • RE: Skype continues to go its own way (this time with video codecs)

    Mary-Jo, it's interesting to note that Google still hasn't gotten around to removing VP8 from Chrome even in v13. I wonder if they've forgotten about their plan from January to remove support for the codec "in the next few months"...?<br><br>Tim | Microsoft
    timsneath
    • VP8?

      @timsneath you mean h.264?
      Lewis Goddard
      • RE: Skype continues to go its own way (this time with video codecs)

        @Lewis Goddard Thank you - yes :)
        timsneath
    • VP8?

      @timsneath you mean H.264?
      Lewis Goddard
  • RE: Skype continues to go its own way (this time with video codecs)

    MJ, if you check it is Google that is saying Skype will use WebM. It seems rather odd that Skype would go down this path considering all the bad news around WebM these days.
    CowLauncher
    • RE: Skype continues to go its own way (this time with video codecs)

      @CowLauncher

      If you think about it Microsoft is a licensors of MPEG LA which pretty much makes Skype immune to potential WebM IP issues...
      Samic
      • RE: Skype continues to go its own way (this time with video codecs)

        @Samic
        Interesting...
        x I'm tc