What does ORTC mean for WebRTC? Wait.. What does WebRTC mean for ORTC? No… What does any of this truly mean for browser-based communication?
OK, so let’s start by tackling what WebRTC and ORTC is and how they compare/differ.
So at the highest level, they offer us an almost identical way of providing the user with the chance to communicate through our computer, inside our browser. Here are the definitions of ORTC and WebRTC – politely borrowed from webrtc.org.
A free, open project that provides browsers and mobile applications with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via simple APIs. The WebRTC components have been optimized to best serve this purpose.
WebRTC and ORTC are almost identical in their outputs and their definition of the service (at a very basic level). There are clear differentiators in how the two compare when we explore the implementation of the technology. You can find articles online favouring WebRTC and ORTC. Ultimately, they both offer the same capability for organisations to take advantage of communicating online.
What does this mean for real-time communications for the end user and the business? We have written about this previously, speculatively, what it means on the broader spectrum and how things could look for the enterprise communication scenery. This transformation has several operational effects on the business.
Enterprises no longer feel the compatibility barrier of the browser. ORTC brings Microsoft EDGE into the real-time communications landscape. Previously, browser-based communication was deemed (by some) to have no or little use as it was not accessible for everyone. Corporate restrictions meant employees are required to use specific browsers (typically IE) and do not have the authorisation to download additional software (such as third party web meeting tools). As such, these organisations shifted to third party applications which could be pre-installed and deemed to be secure. Not only does this narrow the possible solutions to choose from but also restrict employees to meeting with people who use the same solution.
What problems will ORTC solve which weren’t already solved by WebRTC?
ORTC is labelled as an easier technology to implement
W3C label their technology, which is heavily supported by Microsoft, as an easier technology to implement than WebRTC. Easier technology can only increase the accessibility by developers. This may not be an added benefit for the experienced developer, who traditionally have more than the required set of skills to implement complex solutions. However, this can reduce the cost of organisations developing bespoke solutions who do not have such an extensive set of required skills. Time and costing has a substantial impact on any decision, we discussed here at Drum the difficult decision between using an existing service or building your own (To create your own web meeting solution or use an existing service?). But does this significantly affect our decision making process?
Increased awareness of browser-based communication
The release of ORTC brings greater awareness of browser-based communication. Firstly, the hype and marketing pushed around EDGE’s support of browser-based communication has driven the attention of the corporate. A Microsoft product is now supporting browser-based communication, with rumours there will be a certain level of compatibility with Internet Explorer 10. However, not every Internet Explorer user has migrated across to EDGE. In fact, recent figures indicate (and vary) only between 15% and 33% of users moving onto Microsoft EDGE.
Increased accessibility for employees and employers
Both the employee and the employer have an increasingly open route for access to browser-based communication. Gone are the restrictions of the browser. Users are no longer faced with the dreaded ‘audio is not supported’ in your browser or puzzled as to why they do not have access to the meeting audio.
Browser-based communication to be standardised?
Woah! Microsoft are big, but maybe you have forgotten a big player named after a fruit? Apple are still yet to join the browser-based communication journey. Organisations will still demonstrate scepticism towards browser-based communication if one of the world’s largest companies are not trusting the technology with their browser. Apple are more than likely to make their move when they are ready to step in and implement a technology seemingly more efficient and more desirable than WebRTC and ORTC. Although they will be the last to market, users will be asking why WebRTC and ORTC are not working with Apple’s technology rather than the flip side of this.
ORTC is undoubtedly a monumental step towards browser-based communication and the future of how we, as internet users, communicate with another. The release of ORTC will further support organisations in their efforts to utilise a browser-based solution.