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Microsoft Working on HTML5 Skype Web App?
[April 16, 2012]

Microsoft Working on HTML5 Skype Web App?

Originally posted on VoIP & Gadgets Blog, here:

Came across an interesting job posting by Microsoft on the Microsoft Talent Network that seems to point to a web app being developed by the Microsoft and Skype team. Running Skype within a web browser would be huge and would likely using HTML5 along with some Javascript.

Here's the relevant job posting section:

Team at Skype is looking for passionate, team-oriented and self-motivated developers to help us bring Skype experience on to the Web.

You will have a chance to integrate existing Skype solutions on to the web with the support of the backend services build from the ground up using latest Microsoft technologies. Result of your work will be used by hundreds millions of thankful users worldwide.
The rest of it reads as follows:
You will work in dynamical environment with the team of true professionals participating in defining, designing, developing, testing and documenting one of the most popular applications of the modern world.
You will closely cooperate with colleagues developing Skype cross platform core library in Tallinn, Estonia, audio/video team in Stockholm, Sweden, User management team in Prague and web plug-in team in Palo Alto, US.

Key Responsibilities

Architecture and design- to design and maintain robust and loosely coupled application code in collaboration with the team architect.
Develop- to lead development by implementing most critical parts of the application.
Analyse, Estimate, Plan, Test, Document and Release- to understand Skype software development process and perform all required and otherwise useful practices.
Team Rendezvous senior developer responsibility is to actively collaborate with:
- Product management around product requirements and priorities,
- Colleagues from supporting teams on new features and integration issues,
- Team Rendezvous team members guiding their efforts and developing their technical skills.
Candidate Profile, Expertise/Experience
- BS/MS in Computer Science, Information Systems or similar.
- 5+ years developing rich web client applications.
- Real world experience developing HTML5 UI’s including rich interaction based on JavaScript (ideally understands difference between standards based ECMA, and browser specific JavaScript/JS.
- An understanding of rich media in windows (AV) helpful.
- C#, Java or C++ experience is a strong advantage.
Excellent verbal and written communication skills with the ability to interact professionally with a diverse group, executives, managers, and subject matter experts. Must demonstrate cultural sensitivity and diplomacy in communicating with others.
Self-direction- must work independently to develop application code. This role demands proactive, ‘can-do’ nature.
Self-management- must be highly organized and be able to prioritize work effectively. Successfully engage in multiple initiatives simultaneously.
Team-orientation- Able to put team interests above personal, help team to move faster all together and take personal responsibility for the whole team result.

The qualifications is also interesting and mentions web design. "Job Segments: Computer Science, Creative, Developer, Engineer, Engineering, Information Systems, Java, Marketing, Operations, Product Manager, Software Engineer, Technology, Test Engineer, Testing, Web Design".

Clearly Microsoft/Skype is looking to develop a web app. I'm pondering its use-case scenarios, since most mobile users are content to use their Skype mobile app and PC/laptop users are fine using their full-blown Skype application. I suppose it could be used in click-to-call scenarios, especially in shopping cart "questions before you buy" situations. Abandoned carts are a big problem with online retailers and offering an easy click-to-call metho would help mitigate that. Of course, most Skype users already know that click-to-call already exists within Skype, however you must have the application installed for it to work. Having click-to-call utilize a HTML5 web-based app would work regardless of whether the user has Skype installed or not.

As Microsoft further integrates Skype into their unified communications strategy, there could be some enterprise applications for a Web-based version of Skype as well. Perhaps a Skype-to-Lync gateway will be offered to allow Skype and Lync clients to communicate. I can envision this being done in the Office365 cloud instead of a hardware CPE-based gateway, since Microsoft hasn't been successful with telecom hardware in the past. Other than their XBox and mouse & keyboard line of hardware, I can't think of any other successful Microsoft hardware. Though the Microsoft Lumia 900 looks promising. Of course, Nokia makes the hardware and Microsoft the software, so I shouldn't even count that.

Many enterprises, especially larger ones lock down their PCs and laptops and restrict software installation. Allowing and rolling out an allowed software app can be a laborious chore. Thus, having a HTML5 Skype app would ease the deployment and enable B2B communication. B2B communication is a huge selling point for Microsoft Lync, especially due to its ease of federation. However, federation is still a manual process. Using a Skype web app could make B2B communication easier.

For instance, in a B2B scenario, a company could have their clients go to a specific URL to join a password-protected Skype conference. You could then do presentations, desktop sharing, IM, VoIP, and video conferencing. It could compete with GoToMeeting, WebEx, and even Microsoft's own Live Meeting. Though I doubt the HTML5 standard is quite there yet when it comes to VoIP and video conferencing. Although, the WebRTC standard pushed by Google and others will help allow HTML5 to perform these capabilities. It'll be interesting to see what the Microsoft and Skype teams have planned for a web-based Skype app. Stay tuned...

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