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Skype Chooses VP8 Codec for Video Calling

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The news came not from Skype PR, but from John Luther, a Google product manager, writing on the WebM Project blog: Skype is going with the VP8 video codec for one-to-one video calling. There are some qualifiers on that, though: VP8 will only be used in Skype 5.5 for Windows, and only if both parties are using that version.

Skype has already been using VP8 for group calling.

"In addition to being a great codec for web video, VP8 performs exceptionally well in real-time applications like Skype, and is only getting better as we add features like error concealment (produces high visual quality video frames even under conditions of substantial packet loss) and improved datarate control," wrote Luther.

Since WebM and VP8 have been trailing in HTML5 browser support, this will be the first time that many have experienced VP8 video.

The timing is curious and the story involves some of the biggest players in the space. As StreamingMedia.com broke last week, MPEG LA is close to forming a patent pool to challenge ownership of the technologies that VP8 is built on.

"Twelve parties have stepped forward with patents that they believe are essential to the VP8 standard, on which Google's WebM is based, though no patent pool has been formed yet and MPEG LA is not releasing the patentholders' names at this time," wrote Jan Ozer.

Also, Skype recently announced that it will be acquired by Microsoft, although that hasn't closed yet. Microsoft has thrown its support behind the H.264 codec with Internet Explorer 9. WebM/VP8 support can be added by installing a third-party plug-in.

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