back to article 'Hello? Hello? Yes, I'm calling you on my WEB BROWSER'

Mozilla says it will soon begin experimenting with a new streaming video communications system that users can access using only their web browsers. "And that's all you will need," Mozilla's Chad Weiner said in a blog post on Thursday. "No plug-ins, no downloads. If you have a browser, a camera and a mic, you'll be able to make …


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  1. Old Handle

    Does the word BLOAT mean anything to you Mozilla?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Firefox: the new emacs

      So complete they're building a phone OS with it.

      (Mine's the one with the hardcopy of vimtutor in the pocket.)

    2. Steven Roper

      "Does the word BLOAT mean anything to you Mozilla?"

      Exactly this. The main reason I started using Firefox in the first place was because of its speed, efficiency and simplicity. And I don't get why they think having this feature as a plugin or addon is such a bad thing.

      The whole reason the plugin/addon system was originally implemented was so that users could customise the browser with the features they wanted. That way, it only took up the minimum system resources required to implement the desired feature set, and gave the user freedom of choice.

      Mozilla have lost their way in this regard: the ability to make video calls is not something every user is going to want and embedding it into the browser instead of releasing it as an addon simply adds bloat, slows it down even more, reduces user choice and undermines the entire philosophy of simplicity and customisability that made Firefox great in the first place.

      If it's that they're concerned that by making it an "extra" to be downloaded that people won't take it up, why don't they simply include it as an addon with an update and with new installs of the browser? That way, those who don't want it can uncheck it or uninstall it, and Mozilla still gets the "wider take-up because it's opt-out not opt-in" effect.

    3. P. Lee

      > Does the word BLOAT mean anything to you Mozilla?

      True. However, simple video calling is a bit of a FLOSS gap. For the most part, its skype or nothing. I know ekiga is in there but that requires SIP which is a good idea, but generally too hard for many people. Inbound video streaming is already catered for in HTML5 so its just the organisation of the webcam-outbound link.

      WebRTC hopefully is the start of moving away from obscured protocols while maintaining simple end-user setup.

      Personally I'd prefer ISPs to provide SIP registries by default, but it hasn't happened.

      1. Lionel Baden

        Re: > Does the word BLOAT mean anything to you Mozilla?

        Its not about how many products are available.

        Sure make video chat possible But please dont force us to use it !!!

        I will not be using it every-time i browse the web and dont want it, If I do want to try it out I will download it.

      2. Immenseness

        Re: > Does the word BLOAT mean anything to you Mozilla?

        It does seem a bit of a puzzle to me that Mozilla keep changing stuff in the core browser then expecting add-ins to make it behave like it used to if folk don't like it, rather than the other way round. It would seem to make more sense (to me) to use add-ons to try out a new behaviour/style/skin and then if it is widely adopted, incorporate it into the main browser and dispense with the add-on, rather than the other way round.

        In this case, adding what is essentially an extra service, but not adding it as an add-on appears wrong to me, and increases bloat for users who don't need it.

        I like firefox and have used it for years, and love the customisation it offers, but I am finding the changes a bit tedious at the moment.

        I accept I am only me, and my opinion is just that, but there it is.

  2. SoaG

    Good and bad

    Sure video calls have been part of the sci-fi vernacular for decades, but I've never seen any appeal in that degree of privacy invasion every time I answer the phone. So I hate knowing that this will in time likely become as pervasive as Facebook, probably even more so.

    However, if on the road to that particular hell, the herd finally moves off IE before they catch up and support it then at least some good will come of it.

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: Good and bad

      Simple solution. Two answer buttons.

      One shaped like a phone handset for voice only, one shaped like a video camera for voice 'n' video.

      Or just some tape over your webcam, you know, whatever's easiest to implement, or faster to activate when you're trying to get out of your pants and t-shirt and put on some people clothes.

      (that's not a dig - if I go out on a Friday night and expect to spend the next day feeling sorry for myself, it's a t-shirt and boxers day in Châteaux Raith. I have, on occasion, had to flip the camera back while making myself look respectable. Ah, living alone....)

      Steven 'he thinks he's people!' R

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Good and bad

        "One shaped like a phone handset for voice only, one shaped like a video camera for voice 'n' video."

        What does a phone handset look like? We need an icon that looks like a phone which people born in the last 20 years will recognise but which will not attract an iDevice sueball.

        I suggest an ear for audio and an eye for video. Or just use, you know, actual words. Icons are rarely obvious or intuitive. You have to learn what they mean. Then a new version of the program or OS comes out and they changed them all again.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: Good and bad

          While I agree with your sentiment, even ten year olds these days equate a 'floppy disk' icon with 'save'.

          I can remember when you used to rent your handset from BT. People who know how old I am (hint - turning 32 this year) will also remember this, I imagine!

          I expect the telephone handset will live on, although I do like to keep a floppy disk floating around to remind the ten year olds who's boss...

          Steven R

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it sux if...

    ...there is a "service provider" required. Chad Weiner is a bit of wiener to have said, "And that's all you will need." No. You will also certainly need a NIC. If that was it, it might be of some value. But if you have to sign up for some kind of service, then, no thanks and fuck off!

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: it sux if...

      <sarcasm>Well, generally to get any kind of internet access you do in fact need to sign up with an ISP, aka Internet Service Provider. I'm assuming you already have an account with an ISP or similar carrier in order to be able to post your comment. </sarcasm>

      Given that the protocol behind this is W3C approved, I'd say it's pretty much odds-on that it'll work directly over your internet connection. You'll likely need the IP address of the person you wish to call, and there will be a protocol to specify when linking it (similar to the tel: protocol I'd say), but that would be the extent of it. I can't see why you'd need any additional "services" to implement that, any more than you'd need an additional service to use IRC or FTP.

      1. Raumkraut

        Re: it sux if...

        > I can't see why you'd need any additional "services" to implement that, any more than you'd need an additional service to use IRC or FTP.

        Indeed, it's likely similarly analogous, in that neither IRC nor FTP are peer-to-peer protocols, and so require a (usually third-party) server(/"service") to mediate at least the initial connection (and more if you want group communication). Have you ever heard of firewalls and NAT?

        From what I can tell, TokBox is a provider of such intermediate servers, so I assume Mozilla will be using their service as a back-end. Unless Mozilla have some sort of agreement that they host their own back-end infrastructure for it (and even then), this move concerns me with regard to long-term sustainability.

        Not to mention that I'd much rather Mozilla concentrate on implementing the standards required to do this, and leave such applications to third parties. I have been very impressed by Jitsi Meet recently, but unfortunately it doesn't work on Firefox, due to Mozilla having not yet implemented everything it needs.

  4. channel extended

    What kind of security?

    Does it encrypt the session? How long before the spooks want in? On line tracking will kill it. Advertiser's will want to know what you talk about.

  5. king of foo

    moz, pls, woo me back...

    I remember when Firefox was a glimmer of hope in a world of chaos.

    It used to be small, fast and fabulous. I owe a lot to Mozilla. They saved me hours and hours of time cleaning infected family/friends' PC's. Convert an IT illiterate from ie to ff with abp and watch the malware and toolbars vanish...

    But those days are long gone. She let herself succumb to peer pressure. Now she lives in a trailer with 6 kids from 7 different daddys and a heroin addiction.

    The turning point was version 4. Now what's it up to?,30,odd?

  6. Stephen Clifford

    So, this would be a competing video call service to both Skype and Facetime? That'll pretty much guarantee that neither Apple or Microsoft will rush to support this.

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Hasn't this been done already?

    Firefox already has WebRTC and I can't really think how it could be made simpler than this.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    follow the money

    Seems pretty obvious this is more about creating a revenue stream than providing some kind of useful feature.

    They're a bit over-reliant on Google fees at present and need to diversify. Sad fact of life is that people won't pay for a browser, so unless you've got deep pockets like Google and Microsoft, you've gotta raise money somehow. I wonder how many FF users bitching about this have ever donated?

    1. king of foo

      Re: follow the money

      I have in the past, but it was only £5.

      There must be another way to generate funding than plastering ads everywhere.

      Could they mine bitcoins or something when your PC is idle?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    further plans regarding monetization

    Oh well. I had a blond moment applauding this great idea of a standard, free (and of ads too!) feature of web browsers.

  10. Futumsh


    I guess this means we can look forward to 500+ daily version updates for Firefox instead of the usual 400.

    What are we on now, v. 497.984365465165434654354.654634535435435435.5816878354351.867987648354?

  11. Stryker007

    so bloaty mozilla gets fatter?

    More bloat thats not needed.... eejits

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    good feature - obviously banned elsewhere

    There is no web standard now, so many of the corporates browsers are getting depreciated.

    So fair play to Firefox for bypassing the monopolists app store on this.

  13. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Big Brother

    incoming web video web chats?

    "Hi, I see you are looking at products on our web page. Have we got a DEAL for YOU!"

    Don't forget to check that adblock, noscript, flashblock and any other blocker you can think of is installed an operating.

    My wife managed to accidentally switch off one of her ad blockers the other day. She and I were quite surprised when a pop up window appeared with a full audio/video ad for something or other. I didn't even know those type of pop-ups existed before now.

    I suspect "going naked" on the web must be a quite frightening experience these days and the last thing we need are sales people or scammers popping up video windows while we are web browsing. And you just KNOW there will be bugs or workarounds which will allow this.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    When I see someone proposing something to me without given the full story I tend to think that there is something wrong. Maybe they have good reasons to not given further details, but Im entitled to my reasoning as well so, I think its not me who are in the losing side.

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