In Which Microsoft Browser Will WebRTC get Implemented?

December 30, 2014

Will Microsoft just skip IE altogether and focus on their new Spartan browser when it comes to WebRTC?

Joy of joys. We’ve been told in the past that Microsoft is going to get “all in” when it comes to WebRTC ORTC. There are talks around Microsoft browser and Skype support. That said, this last piece of news from ZDNet makes me wonder. Yesterday, Mary Jo Foley broke the news on ZDNet that Microsoft is building a new browser:

It turns out that what’s actually happening is Microsoft is building a new browser, codenamed Spartan, which is not IE 12

So. The next Windows version (10), will have a new browser. Lightweight. More akin to Chrome and Firefox than IE. And not IE.

Where will Microsoft end up implementing WebRTC? There are many possibilities – IE6 – IE11 and then there’s Spartan.

Looking at November statistics for IE’s market share split across the various versions, we get this picture:

Microsoft IE fragmentation

This spread brings with it several options for Microsoft:

  1. Implement and add WebRTC from IE6 and up, and add it to Spartan as well – unrealistic
  2. Implement and add WebRTC from IE8 and up, and add it to Spartan as well – still unrealistic
  3. Implement and add WebRTC to IE11 and to Spartan – probably where Microsoft is aiming at the moment
  4. Implement and add WebRTC to Spartan only – reasonable, but fails to meet Skype’s ambitions for web browsers, so I don’t think Microsoft will go there
  5. Implement and add WebRTC to IE11 only – a possibility at this point in time. Adding WebRTC to a brand new browser is harder to chew, especially when internal development around WebRTC has been going on for some time now. Microsoft might just decide to implement WebRTC in IE11, and delay it on Spartan for later in the year

Why is this important?

  • Having WebRTC running on IE is the number one complaint of most vendors
  • The problem with IE is that it isn’t a single version – it doesn’t auto update like Chrome or Firefox, so you can look at it as a single product
  • With a fragmented IE deployment out there, support for WebRTC in IE is not guaranteed
  • Forking IE to yet another new browser means more headaches
  • WebRTC on IE is a topic that we will see covered in 2015 and maybe even through 2016

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