Microsoft has announced the launch of the plugin-free version of Skype for Web six months after first announcing such a move. However, there is a catch, it being that the service is only available on the Microsoft Edge browser right now. Or to put in other terms, Edge users can make Skype video and voice calls on Skype.com, Outlook.com, Office Online, and OneDrive.
Microsoft added that it is using the WebRTC standard to allow for plugin-free Skype calls on the Edge browser. All that Edge users have to do is login and click to start a call; it’s as simple as that. This applies to both ‘one-to-one and group voice and video calls’ to and from Microsoft Edge.
The official Skype blog also stated all one-to-one Skype calls from Microsoft Edge to the latest versions of Skype for Windows and Skype for Mac will be plug-in free as well. This otherwise would have required the installation of a special plugin which makes the entire process a bit more cumbersome.
Users will also need to have at least Windows 10 Version 1511 and above installed to experience the new plugin-free Skype. Microsoft has stated they are working on extending the feature on other WebRTC enabled mainstream web browsers as well such as Firefox, Chrome and so on. However, that is not going to happen unless the browsers are made compatible with H.264 video codec.
That said, Microsoft also expressed optimism claiming the plugin-free Skype experience on both Firefox and Chrome shouldn’t be too far off considering both of these browsers are in advanced stages of incorporating H.264 video codec support.
However, while the prospect of making a Skype calls on a web browser without having to install a dedicated plugin for the same does sound tempting, there simply are just too many check boxes to be ticked for the service to ring true. For instance, a plugin is still necessary to make group calls between Skype for Web and its desktop version. Similarly, Screen Sharing or calls made to landlines or mobiles will have to be exclusive via the plugin right now. Further, the plugin will also be needed if the recipient isn’t using the latest version of Skype .
While that makes for quite some ground for Microsoft to cover as yet, the good thing is that the process have already started at least.