updated 04:45 am EDT, Thu September 13, 2012
Opus could be used in browser-based Skype
Skype has been working on a new audio codec promising CD-quality audio through its calls. The codec, named Opus, has been approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as a new standard for online audio, and is expected to become not only standard for all platforms Skype runs on, but also for other companies to take advantage of for their own products.
Opus is built off a previous codec called SILK, which has been in use by the company since 2009, and has been used to serve over 750 billion minutes of Skype-to-Skype calls. When combined with Xiph.Org's CELT, it now allows for what is called "CD quality" audio over Skype, including fullband stereo sound. It is also claimed to be an improvement for calls using both music and voice, and suggested that it delivers a higher-quality of sound than a broad collection of existing codecs working together.
Early last month, Microsoft made a proposal to the W3C WebRTC working group as a first step towards establishing a standard for HTML5-based communications, something which would be essential to the creation of a browser-based version of Skype without plug-ins. The current issue with the development of the standard is the choice of codecs being used, with Google and Mozilla opting for the open sourced VP8 while Microsoft wanted to be more flexible. With the IETF seal of approval, Skype's Opus could end up becoming the codec of choice for this type of system.
Opus is still under development, and no date has been given for its inclusion into the Skype application itself. [via Skype official blog]