Bringing Interoperable Real-Time Communications to the Web

October 27th, 2014

Together with the industry-leading expertise of Skype, we’re excited to announce development has begun on the ORTC API for WebRTC, a key technology to make Real-Time Communications (RTC) on the web a reality. 

We aim to make browser-based calls more convenient by removing the need to download a plugin.  It’s all about convenience – imagine you’ll be able to simply open IE and make a Skype call to friends, family, or get real-time support for that new device right from your browser.


We’ve been actively collaborating with the W3C and IETF to contribute and improve standards like the ORTC API for WebRTC to enable a wide range of features from simple conversations to scalable multiparty video conferences. With the momentum from over 80 participants that represent a variety of browsers, communications experts and start-ups, the W3C ORTC Community Group has issued a “Call for Implementations,” which signals the ORTC specification has reached significant stability. Building on top of the experiences from Skype and Lync and prototyping effort done by the Microsoft OpenTech, we are now working to deliver the ORTC API in Internet Explorer.

The ORTC specification supports the underlying protocols as defined by the IETF RTCWEB Working Group, which enables support for advanced video conferencing technologies such as simulcast and scalable video coding.  We are working with the web community on various fronts to influence how a subset of ORTC objects and methods become part of the WebRTC 1.0 API. This helps to provide a seamless transition from WebRTC 1.0 to a JavaScript object-based real-time communications model based on ORTC (i.e. WebRTC 1.1).

As part of this effort we are committed to innovate and offer better codecs as the technology matures. Our choices here are driven to benefit the broadest set of users – e.g. the primary video codec that is deployed both in communications endpoints and supported in hardware today is ITU-T H.264, which will be the supported video codec. For voice, we will offer codecs like Opus, G.722, and G.711 to enable the greatest experience for a broad variety of endpoints.

Where we are going

This is just the beginning of our implementation effort in IE.  We’re working closely with the web community to improve other existing standards for richer video interoperability, for example, features to adapt to changing bandwidth conditions and more.  In addition, Microsoft’s goal is to move forward to the future without compromising the present – and ensure easier interoperability between web browsers and billions of existing communications endpoints, including SIP-based VoIP endpoints, “Public Switched Telephone Networks” and “Video Teleconferencing” systems.

We will continue leveraging the deep knowledge we have within Skype and Lync, and over a decade worth of customer feedback from the millions of users, across the world.  With the combined assets of Microsoft and our collaboration from the web community and standard bodies, we are committed to building a great RTC experience for the web.  Follow along with our progress on status.modern.IE and let us know what you think on Twitter @IEDevChat.

Shijun Sun

Senior Program Manager, Internet Explorer