Should VoIP be Considered an Operating System Function?

October 15, 2013

Times change. Browsers are now part of operating systems. Is it time for VoIP to take that leap as well?

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Remember years back when Microsoft had to pay fines for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows? While this is still going on to some extent, do you feel that browsers today aren’t an integral part of an operating system?

Look at Android and iOS – they both come bundled with a web browser. No antitrust there.

It is obvious today that the definition of what an operating system is has changed – and it now includes a browser. In many operating systems, you can even open up your own “webview” inside a native application – that’s a component used to access the web browser directly and embed it into an application of your own.

Microsoft recently confirmed their plans to bundle Skype into Windows. Some see it as an opportunity for another antitrust case. I think it is time to redefine the operating system yet again.

Here are some thoughts I have, in no specific order on this topic:

  • Web browsers weren’t a part of what an operating system is, but now they are
  • An operating system used to be a set of system calls and APIs that developers could use to access the local CPU and its peripherals. Today, most of them are connected to cloud services via push notifications, app stores, etc.
  • Apple has FaceTime and iMessage preinstalled on phones. They don’t only provide a service but they cannot really me copied or competed against by anyone else writing apps to iOS
    • Apple won’t allow it if it does happen – they will probably find a reason to ban such apps
    • Apple did a deeper integration into iOS that isn’t accessible to anyone else. This deeper integration goes to both hardware and user experience layers
  • Google have Hangouts preinstalled on phones, so what’s the difference here
  • With Android’s upcoming KitKat release, we might even see WebRTC getting pre-integrated into the phone with direct access to developers, opening up VoIP as an existing tool for developers inside an operating system
  • Firefox OS runs purely on HTML5, and again, with WebRTC, you get the ability to access VoIP services and build whatever you feel like

Skype preinstalled on Windows? Fine. Where’s the news here?

The operating system is being redefined in the past 6 years. I wish I knew what’s coming next.

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  1. It could be done, but I would be perfectly happy if sometime we will arrive at least to the stage when the proper infrastructure (quality API) would be offered by the OS for such kind of application.
    Otherwise there are already existing apps working in all OS/all browsers, mostly flash or java based such as the mizu webphone (

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