By Chris Vitek
My STC colleague, Bruce Burgess, sent over this e-mail earlier today. If you use WebEx with Chrome or Firefox, then you need to read or risk difficulty in the way that you access WebEx meetings.
Mozilla and Google recently announced that their browsers will automatically block the Netscape Plug-in Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) beginning on December 10, 2013, for Mozilla Firefox, and January 2014, for Google Chrome. These policy changes apply to all operating systems supported by Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.
How This Affects WebEx Users
Users will need to manually enable plug-ins within these browsers to successfully join WebEx meetings once these changes have taken place. The WebEx meeting will not successfully launch (users will stay on the ‘Join Meeting’ page) until the plug-in has been enabled.
To assist customers with these browser policy changes, WebEx will be making future enhancements to the join meeting flow, to provide instructions on how to enable the plug-in.
When Will This Change Occur?
- Mozilla Firefox version 26 – December 10, 2013* (Estimated)
- Google Chrome version 32 – January 2014* (Estimated)
*Browser releases are controlled by Mozilla and Google; Dates are subject to change.Enabling the Plug-in (after browser update):
Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome will automatically upgrade to the NEW browser versions when they are made available by Mozilla and Google. Once the user’s browser has been updated:
- Users must enable the WebEx plug-in separately for each affected browser.
- Users must enable the WebEx plug-in separately for each WebEx web site.
For detailed instructions for enabling the WebEx plug-in on the affected browsers, please view the Joining a WebEx Meeting on Chrome and Firefox FAQs
Google has also announced that support for plug-ins will be completely removed from Chrome by the end of 2014. WebEx is committed to providing a simple and easy way for users to join WebEx meetings, and is currently investing in new, alternative methods to join meetings that do not require the use of plug-ins. We will advise on the recommended alternatives as soon as possible.
Aside from the immediate user impact the most interesting thing about this situation is Google’s intention to remove plug-ins from Chrome next year. That means that if you want to use Chrome to access audio or video communications, then you are going to have to use Chrome’s codec’s and media services. So, If you use Chrome and possibly Firefox for WebEx access, then you may have to change browsers next year unless Cisco adopts WebRTC as an end-point for WebEx. Rowan Trollope and Jonathan Rosenberg think that WebRTC is an end-point technology. It should be interesting to see how they balance the embracement of WebRTC against its threat to their end-point revenues for WebEx, and by extension, their entire collaboration portfolio. A pricing model change may be the easy way out for Cisco and WebEx users.
Other manufacturers are going to have to deal with the same issue. The key here is that once you integrate a WebRTC interface as an end-point, then all proprietary end-points have to compete with a no-cost interface that is currently available in Chrome and firefox.
If anyone has information about how other manufacturers are dealing with this situation, then post an update below or e-mail it to me and I will post.