Cracking the IE WebRTC Challenge: Does Google Even Care?

July 8, 2013

IE isn’t going to get WebRTC any time soon.

WebRTC for IE

In the WebRTC event in Atlanta, the issue of IE support was raised multiple times, but at the end of the day, WebRTC is a minor issue in the grander scheme of things. Both Mozilla and Google gave some interesting keynotes during the conference, touching briefly on WebRTC and moving on to the other great technologies they have rolling out: things like even faster Java Script and page rendering, WebGL support, Web components, etc.

To top it off, there have been 3 different announcements recently:

  1. Firefox getting official support for WebRTC
  2. Google stopping their investment in Chrome Frame
  3. Microsoft adopting WebGL but not WebRTC for IE 11

There were 4 companies that could have made WebRTC on IE a reality:

  1. Microsoft, by just adding it
  2. Google, with their Chrome Frame – even if only in a limited way

And as Dean Bubley notes, there are two more:

  1. Adobe, by implementing WebRTC in their Flash plugin
  2. Oracle, by implementing WebRTC as part of their Java plugin

Microsoft already announced no interest in this round.

Google just left the table.

Adobe and Oracle… I don’t see any of them picking up the initiative on this one, though one of them should.

My recommendation?

If your target customers rely on having IE running, and in an environment that doesn’t allow for any installation of additional plugins (which may well be the case in large contact centers) – then just wait. Don’t go for WebRTC at this point.

If your target customers are mostly non IE or can install plugins – embrace the technology.

No help will be forthcoming until WebRTC will be used on a daily basis by many of that billion devices we’re being told about. And if you ask me – it won’t come from video calling but rather from other domains.

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  1. If Adobe had added support for VP8 as they promised years ago implementing a webrtc-rtmfp gateway would be relatively easy. There is an excellent RTMFP spec available as a internet draft, you just need to get two little keys from your favorite dealer of strong cryptography.

  2. Google should have continued supporting Frame a little longer to ensure WebRTC gets more adoption. Did anybody care about IE? Microsoft between it’s Lync and Skype offerings doesnt see any benefit in going out of the way to support WebRTC in browser. IE is dominant within enterprises where WebRTC would fail due to firewall or NAT reasons.
    The browser that worries me the most is Safari. Apple’s silence on WebRTC is not helping. I run a hosted service for bridging browser based video/audio calls. I get asked about support for Safari all the time.
    Adobe has the best client story for video calls. Flash is supported by all browsers and OS (except iOS). It supported video encoding a while back and hasnt looked back since.
    Google should put android support for WebRTC on full steam. This would help maximise the adoption of WebRTC.

    1. Why would WebRTC fail because of firewalls ? WebRTC supports a similair set of protocols as for example Skype.

      1. Well, WebRTC is intentionally less aggressive than skype.

        STUN and TURN typically solve NAT problems.
        TURN-TCP and TURN-TLS solve some firewall issues, mostly with firewalls that only look at the port numbers.
        For enterprises with restrictive firewalls will allow them to run their own TURN servers and control who’s allowed to use them. The TURN server acts as a new kind of SBC.

        draft-hutton-rtcweb-nat-firewall-considerations-01 is worth reading.

  3. How is that different creating your own plugin vs using Google Chrome Frame. Mostly of users doesn’t have Google Chrome Frame and have to install it anyway?

    1. Several differences.

      First off, it is one plugin instead of multiple ones for multiple WebRTC services.

      It comes from Google, so gets a higher trust levels than other plugins, which also means IT will be more open to approve it in their network.

  4. Yeah … Microsoft is actually pushing WebRTC harder than Google is. Substantially.

    Firefox and Google are moving forwards with half-baked implementations. Microsoft is helping improve the standard with the W3C, which is the correct approach.

    Do some research.

    “Adobe could have implemented” yeah yeah, there are tons of WebRTC clients in flash, if you’d just go look. Twilio will give you one for free.

    Try looking for options *before* complaining.

    1. Half baked solutions are now driving a lot of innoation, while IE still doesn’t support anything of WebRTC in their latest official release.

      I am definitely not complaining about the current situation. I just think that Microsoft, and to a lot of extent Apple, are doing everything they can to decrease their market share in browsers and I can’t really figure out their motivation for that.

  5. Hi Tsahi,

    Could you review (or at least list) the available options for using WebRTC under IE with a plugin? Are there even any supported plugins for adding WebRTC?

  6. Hey,

    I want to implement video chat functionality on IE without installing any plugins..
    Is it possible..????

    If anyone has any idea please suggest me..


    1. Ankit,

      I am no Flash expert – you should check the web for that. A good place to start is probably Wowza. If you have a simple use case, look for an existing platform that you can OEM or customize.

  7. Frozen Mountain’s IceLink product supports WebRTC for IE (as well as number of other platforms). We do so using an ActiveX control for now. We use our own API In order to encapsulate both the WebRTC API and the future Microsoft ORTC API when it becomes available in Internet Explorer so we will be “plugin free” on IE as soon as IE provides the capabilities.

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