Microsoft has updated the Skype desktop clients for PC and Mac users that enables plugin free calling through the Microsoft Edge browser.

Turns out this capability is functional in all version of Microsoft Edge since Windows 10 Build 10586, the November Update that was released last fall, and with this weeks client updates is now functional although there are a few limitations.

The new plugin free functionality is available to users on Outlook.com, Office Online (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), and OneDrive.

This new functionality is possible thanks to the ORTC Media Engine the Edge team has been building for their browser for several months:

"ORTC Support in Microsoft Edge is the result of a close collaboration between Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group and Skype teams. Together we bring over 20 years of web platform experience and over 12 years of expertise in building one of the largest and most reliable real-time communications service for consumers and business users. Our goal is to enable developers around the world to build experiences that include the ability to talk to Skype users and other WebRTC compatible communication services."

The implementation of this feature has been labeled as a preview so that means - these days that is another word for beta - so be aware you might hit a few snags along the way.

Here are the plugin free scenarios you can expect during the preview period:

  • All Skype one-to-one and group voice and video calls to and from Microsoft Edge browsers are plugin free.
  • All Skype one-to-one calls from Microsoft Edge to the latest versions of Skype for Windows and Skype for Mac are plug in free.

There are three caveats for this all to work together.

I already mentioned the need for the Microsoft Edge browser that is included in Windows 10 Build 10586 or higher plus the updated desktop clients for PC and Mac.

The last item is a couple of missing features from the plugin free experience and that is no screen sharing or calls to land lines and/or mobile devices are possible.

Microsoft is working to bring interoperability for audio and video in Chrome and Firefox as well. According to this announcement article that will be possible when those browsers support the H.264 video codec.

Having recently used Skype for a couple of conference calls myself that had me battling plugins all I can say is bring it on!

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.