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04 August 2011, 15:05

Skype moves to VP8 for all video calls

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In a posting on Google's WebM Project blog, John Luther, the project's manager, has announced that their "friends" at Skype have started to use VP8 for one-to-one video calls. If two or more people connect using Skype 5.5 for Windows or a later version, then the video codec will automatically switch to VP8. VP8 has been used for group calls since Skype 5.0.

Luther claims that using VP8 will provide optimum transmission for the video streams. In particular, he says that using its error concealment technology, VP8 is able to recover well and maintain good visual quality even when large numbers of packets are lost. He also notes that VP8 performs "exceptionally well" in real-time video applications such as Skype.

These performance enhancements are not the only benefit to Skype in moving completely to VP8. The move is a natural progression for Skype, having used VP8's predecessor, VP7, since 2005. That had been developed by On2 Technologies, and carried a licence fee. However, in 2010 On2 Technologies was acquired by Google, and the new VP8 was subsequently released as a royalty free open source technology as part of the WebM project. WebM has since been adopted by Mozilla and Opera as the only codec they support for HTML5 video; Google's own Chrome also supports it, as do YouTube and many open source applications.

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