What were you thinking with your plugins for Chrome?
3 years now we have WebRTC. We are at a point where it is stable and ubiquitous enough. Chrome 42 has just been released. Besides improvements in WebRTC, it comes with a “minor” modification long announced – NPAPI plugins.
If you wish to learn more about the various plugin systems for browsers, then ArsTechnica offers a good explanation. The gist:
- NPAPI is old and outdated (think Netscape old)
- It has been announced to be removed from Chrome a long time ago
- Google is now phasing it out – requiring an option change that needs to be specifically opted in for it
- Come September this year, that option will be gone as well
- There’s an alternative – Google’s NaCl
Many of the video conferencing services for the enterprise are built in top of plugins for browsers. If you need a desktop client, you get to download *something* with the intention to have it seem and operate inside the browser. The reasons behind this are various, the main one being reduction in the number of clicks needed for installation of a full fledged application and handling administrator permissions on enterprise machines making the top of that list.
These proprietary plugins usually rely on NPAPI, though they might be using the more modern NaCl.
What are these vendors going to do now? Here are the 4 alternatives:
- Drop support altogether. Unlikely. Those that do send a strong signal to their market about their irrelevancy: “Don’t buy from us” is the message
- Switch to a full fledged app. Very likely. But reduces convenience for their end users. Not a good thing to do in 2015
- Replace NPAPI with NaCl. Very likely. Not sure how much effort this takes. Those that do send the message of clinging to the horns of the altar
- Switch to WebRTC
Hmm… If I had to guess, most would chose the NaCl route over the WebRTC one. That’s sad.
I was invited to speak at WebRTC Global Summit in London this week. The session I was asked to present was titled “Timeline and Forecast”. When I sat down to create my presentation, I was clueless as to what to talk about. So I started off by adding “are we there yet?” as a subtitle and everything clicked into place for me.
Here’s the presentation:
Back to Chrome 42.
With so many vendors moving towards WebRTC – now over 600 of them – how can a company in the enterprise video conferencing market choose to go for a browser plugin on Chrome instead of WebRTC is beyond me.
Are we there yet? Yes.
Need to know where WebRTC is available? Download this free WebRTC Device Cheat Sheet.