Last week, Microsoft made a major update to the Web version of its Skype client, bringing HD video calling, call recording, and other features already found on the other clients.
And as if to prove a point, the update works only in Edge and Chrome. Firefox, Safari, and even Opera are locked out. In the past, the Skype team has pointed to codec issues as the reason for inconsistent browser support. But that shouldn’t be a concern these days, as both the H.264 and VP8 video codecs are supported in Edge, Chrome, and Firefox. Google Hangouts and Google Meet support plugin-free video calling in Firefox, for example, as have other online services. For a long time, Apple refused to support WebRTC—the underlying browser technology used for real-time voice and video chatting—in Safari. But even that feature gap doesn’t exist any more, and Safari should now support everything required.
The trend is clear: Chrome is becoming the new Internet Explorer 6.
Yeah, hopefully it won’t be as bad this time, but that really depends on how many influential websites lean into this kind of vendor locking. I’d like to hear from google themselves as to where they stand on this situation. On the one hand they might be implicitly ok with it because chrome is their browser. But on the other hand they’ve benefited from having strong viable web standards, so I wonder if they’re at all concerned about what microsoft might potentially do: Ie when you can’t beat them, embrace/extend/extinguish them. It’d be fair to call me cynical, but given microsoft’s history I think the industry needs to precede with caution, lest we want to repeat history.
We need active competition in this space to prevent staleness. However it is easy to understand why web developers choose to use the latest features, and don’t spend time porting them to other platforms.
I started using Chrome since it was fast and standards compliant. (Since then I started working at Google, but that is coincidental). In my personal opinion it is still the best in these regards. However if the competition is not strong enough, it would cause staleness like all other platforms.
Microsoft had this when Windows had no competition. However Linux on the servers (not desktop) made Windows better by pushing them.
Bing has pushed Google search plenty of times.
Tesla brought all other car manufacturers to consider EV as a viable choice.
and so on…
I do not have any recommendations, though.
(disclaimer: personal opinion, not my employer’s..)
“Custom User Agent String” or similar extensions are your friends.
Yeah I know that is just a band-aid over a severed-arm scale problem, but it is easy and helpful in most cases.