VOICE OVER IP (VoIP), chat messaging and video calling outfit Skype has incorporated the open source VP8 video codec in its Skype 5.5 Windows client.
John Luther, product manager of the WebM Project, revealed that Skype is now using the VP8 video codec for one-to-one and group video calls in its network. Luther said that all Skype users must be using Skype 5.5 for Windows in order for video to be encoded in VP8.
Luther claims that the open source VP8 codec is well suited to real-time applications such as Skype. He mentioned that the codec does error concealment, meaning that even if packets are dropped, video quality is maintained.
The way video codecs deal with errors is a key differentiator, especially for use on the public internet. There are a number of techniques that researchers consider including forward error correction and multi layer encoding to build up image quality based on underlying network characteristics.
As Google is pushing VP8, which is part of the WebM project, earlier this year it announced that all new videos on Youtube will be encoded with VP8 while audio will use Vorbis. The HTML5 video tag supports a number of formats including WebM.
It is good to see Skype, which closely guards its proprietary network protocols and source code, use open standards and an open source video codec. While the firm doesn't offer independent software developers much, the choice does show that open source codecs such as VP8 are just as good as closed source alternatives. µ
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