Microsoft is reportedly working to bring Skype's voice calling functionality to browsers without the need for a standalone client app. This is according to at least four job ads posted by the company describing a "Skype for Browsers" project and calling on software engineers in London and Prague with "real world experience developing HTML5 UI's including rich interaction based on JavaScript."

Skype began its foray into the browser last year by hooking up with Facebook to handle its video chat features. But the service is not available on browsers beyond the social network's walls. That implementation also relies on a browser plug-in, whereas the ads' wording suggests Microsoft will use web standards this time around, which makes sense as their plugin-free Windows 8 Metro environment is almost ready for prime time.

The move would make it possible to use the popular voice and video calling service on upcoming Windows 8 tablets through a web app, and pretty much on any other device / OS combination supporting HTML5 and other standards, including Google's Chrome OS where users can't install stand-alone applications.

Of course, Microsoft is not alone in bringing standards-based voice and video chat features to the browser. Just recently Mozilla showed off a Web-based video calling demo that uses the open source WebRTC standard to establish a connection, and a JavaScript and HTML-based SocialAPU for audio and video streaming. Meanwhile, Google is also building WebRTC into Chrome to eventually replace their current video and voice chat implementation in Gmail, which requires a proprietary browser plug-in.

Microsoft closed its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype in October 2011 and finally brought the service to its Windows Phone platform in February this year. The company has said it plans to integrate Skype across numerous consumer products such as the Xbox 360.