A browser-based version of Skype now seems inevitable as Microsoft has taken the first steps towards its support of the web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) HTML5 standard. GigaOm reports that Microsoft submitted its own proposal for WebRTC today, as Customizable, Ubiquitous Real Time Communication over the Web (CU-RTC-Web). The standard, essential to a plugin-free video and audio communications in HTML5, will likely be used in future browser-based versions of Skype — something we've seen hinted at previously in Skype job listings.

Although Microsoft will implement a browser-based version of Skype video calling in its Outlook.com webmail client soon, we understand this particular implementation will require a plugin and will not use WebRTC initially. Microsoft's contribution to the W3C WebRTC working group is slightly different from Google's own support, varying largely down to codec support, and the standard has not yet been finalized — so we're not expecting to see a new web version of Skype anytime soon. The foundations of the standard, providing they're approved, will set the framework for a future of plugin-free audio and video communication web apps — including Skype, Google Talk, and others.