back to article Microsoft to rip up P2P Skype, killing native Mac, Linux apps

In the same month Microsoft announced its alpha WebRTC-based Skype for Linux client, Redmond has put that native app and the native OS X Skype client on an end-of-life list. This is because Skype is being rebuilt to replace its peer-to-peer architecture with cloud-centric code that supports Windows, iOS, Android and web …

Anonymous Coward

All you conversations

are belong to Route through our servers for the benefit of our friends.

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Big Brother

Re: All you conversations

Seriously, the tin foil hat brigade will go nuts over this. And maybe, they're right.

All the info that gets sucked off Win10 plus the other moves MS is making make me think all of this is going straight to the new NSA datacluster in Utah.

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WTF?

Re: All you conversations

I don't use Skype myself, as I don't see the point. Is there an open source platform independent encrypted P2P equivalent? If not, maybe there should be.

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Re: All you conversations

Viber might be a contender.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: All you conversations

If you trust the Chinese government...WeChat is decent too. It has video call. It has a web UI which can be accessed by a browser. It has a Windows PC client.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: All you conversations

Skype has some good features, and I have some contacts over the years who still only use Skype so I try to keep it around.

Before the Microsoft acquisition, Skype was the best free multi-platform desktop sharing app. Once Microsoft bought it, they broke desktop sharing on Linux (not a surprise). There is plausible deniability that it was intentional, but I wouldn't be surprised either way.

With the new version, maybe the Linux version will reach feature parity with the others -- but it has a long way to go and I am quite skeptical.

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Re: All you conversations

No, both Viber and WeChat REQUIRE your phone number.

So for privacy, the best thing is simply to use plain WebRTC through sites like appear.in (or plenty others). For that you just need a browser like Firefox or Chromium (not sure about M$ browsers because they alawys want their OWN "norm" like WenRTC does not please them, they did ORTC).

With WebRTC, if there is a direct route between the 2 callers, your browser will use that route, so that the initial server is used only for starting the conversation. If there is no direct route, WebRTC will use a relay, but as it is end-to-end encrypted, the relay has no way of knowing what is inside the packets it relays.

As for M$, it is absolutely sure they decrypt the conversation, otherwise how would you want them to do the feature: "adapt the bandwidth to each correspondent"... with WebRTC, there is no way you could do that, although they are bringing a feature comparable to "progressive JPEG" with video, so that the correspondents can adapt with their own bandwidth, at the price of lesser image quality.

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Facepalm

Re: All you conversations

Unfortunately, any "replacement" needs to be free and easily installable. It's not that I might not be willing to pay a modest fee for proper peace of mind, but one needs to be able to convince everybody else currently using Skype to convert to the replacement too, and that definitely won't fly if I need to tell them "well, if you want to keep talking to me just delete Skype and get a monthly SIP subscription then please follow this easy not-at-all technical 101-step tutorial on how to set up your phone to use it, I have another slightly longer one for your laptop..."

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Re: All you conversations

Yes. There is an open source contender. HTML5. Skype is really just a brand now.

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Re: All you conversations

"No, both Viber and WeChat REQUIRE your phone number."

They require _a_ working phone number. Not necessarily the number of the equipment it's running on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: All you conversations

Tried Viber, got bombared by spam on a daily basis, uninstalled Viber

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Re: All you conversations

Actually for all those conversations you must have without Redmond listening in, try getting hold of Signal for Android/IOS.

Also, what is the future of iOS Skype - is that getting an overhaul as well?

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Linux

Re: All you conversations

After the Microsoft acquisition, Skype went downhill fast and even my Windows using friends told me to stay way from it.

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Re: All you conversations

Not open source but appear.in is pretty brilliant! No sign ups - Web RTC. Pretty much all I use now for conference calls!

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Viber !

I just was about to install viber on my Android phone when I looked at what it needs to have access to !!!! Wow more likely what it doesn't need access to would be be a shorter list !

I will list the 3 main suspect ones it wants access to !

Device & app history ?

Wifi connection information ?

Bluetooth connection information ?

When I initially saw the list I looked at it carefully as I was worried if it wanted to know my penis size etc !

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My first thought was this is so they can slurp your data to whore you to advertisers (and paying gov departments) just like Google do. And Win10 does.

Having thought about it a bit more, that is also my 2nd thought.

Edited to add: What are the real alternatives to Skype these days? Something that is cross-platform and not dependent on a big data-slurping company? Might be useful to know.

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"What are the real alternatives to Skype these days? Something that is cross-platform and not dependent on a big data-slurping company?"

Still skype, or hangouts, but use semaphore over a video chat.

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Wire (wire.com) has Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and web clients. It doesn't have Windows Phone but Windows Phone is deader than Skype. Microsoft can fragment Skype until it only works with Windows Desktop and Windows Phone and then they'll be utterly surprised to find that nobody is using it.

There's also appear.in which is web only, but it has the advantage of not having a crappy broken UI, unlike Skype.

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Linux

Re: What are the real alternatives to Skype

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_VoIP_software

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There's one called Brosix, but I haven't tried it myself, anyone have experience with it?

http://brosix.com

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What are the real alternatives to Skype

Some potential alternatives could be ring.cx, Tox and retroshare. First two work decentralised with DHTs, and the last one is a bit older from an architectural point of view and voip + video is still an add on. Yet another alternative could be your favourite XMPP server + jingle.

None of the options above are as convenient or wide spread as Skype, but maybe one of them can get a foot hold and become a new standard? Would be nice, but I doubt it.

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Re: What are the real alternatives to Skype

None of the options above are as convenient or wide spread as Skype ...

Not at the moment but now that Microsoft have signalled the end to Skype on Mac, which is now a significant market, I do not think it will take long for someone to take its place. Gone are the days when then can get away with this sort of thing because "everyone uses Windows".

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Anonymous Coward

Alternatives to Skype

Is anyone using Linphone? It seems to run on just about every sensible platform, both desktop and mobile. It does messaging, audio and video calling and is apparently fully encrypted. The mobile clients are nice, but the desktop ones are a little clunky, unfortunately. It could possibly use some developer and donation help, but it does seem to be the most multi-platform system out there, although it seems to be little known.

https://www.linphone.org/

Or Signal (only iOS and Android, though)? One of its developers is Moxie Marlinspike, who is someone who seems to know his stuff about security, which is a scarily complicated field (although these days you almost wonder who is actually for real and who is potentially a false flag agent, and how would you know…?).

https://whispersystems.org/

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Re: Is anyone using Linphone?

I've had that on my system for years, but never made anything but a few test calls. Currently I'm trying ekiga instead, which seems to have fewer dependencies, which makes getting to the point of making a test call easier. :-)

I'm no fan of skype, but since that's all anyone else wants to use, I seem to be stuck with it.

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Re: What are the real alternatives to Skype

Yes, but I just want reliable PRIVATE cross platform real time text chat, with occasional file drag & drop, image copy and paste, less often voice calls and least occasionally video.

All in one NON-Web client.

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Viber?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is anyone using Linphone?

Ekiga seemed fairly polished the last time I looked at it on Linux, but the snag is that it's Linux and Windows only, so it can't be recommended for everyone, unfortunately.

The difficulty is that, for universal interoperability (or as close as possible), everyone needs to be using the same communication and encryption protocols, which often seems to mean using the same app, as they sadly all seem to be inventing multiple incompatible wheels! If SIP + ZRTP are appropriate and also secure open standards then maybe there could be hope that whatever app a given person is using would be unimportant.

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Have a look at Jitsi

(see title)

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Re: What are the real alternatives to Skype

What about desktop sharing? For a decade I used to recommend WebEx and Skype, but recently both of them have become useless on Linux.

HP MyRoom seems to work very well on Linux, but I'm not sure of the licensing model.

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I concur for appear.in

Tried wire, but it keeps telling me "Problem with the connection". :/

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Re: Alternatives to Skype

Linphone is in the Ubuntu repo which makes it easy to install. Unfortunately, I have never been able to use video with it, although audio works well with the SIP account given by my ISP (and I could capture incoming calls to my home phone when I'm out).

Signal from whispersystems... how can you seriously claim promote privacy when the first thing you ask is your phone number! So if you ask me, this so-called "security expert" is a phony.

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What are the real alternatives to Skype these days?

Viber seems to be popular. The call quality is better than Skype.

Windows, Mac, Linux

Windows 10, iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8

It's produced by the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten Inc.

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JLV
Silver badge

Re: What are the real alternatives to Skype

Strangely enough, this comes to mind when seeing that list:

https://xkcd.com/927/

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Re: Alternatives to Skype

"how can you seriously claim promote privacy when the first thing you ask is your phone number! So if you ask me, this so-called "security expert" is a phone."

But privacy doesn't automatically need to mean anonymity does it?

Keen as I am on protecting peoples privacy, anonymity seems a little more problematic.

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It is a move in the right direction

I refused to use Skype since it was bought by Microsoft. However, I might consider using its cloud version if no Microsoft code needs to be installed. I am fully aware "all your talks are belong to Redmont (and some government agencies)" but at least I would know when they spy on me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It is a move in the right direction

I refused to use Skype since it was bought by Microsoft. However, I might consider using its cloud version if no Microsoft code needs to be installed.

I wouldn't if I were you. I entertain myself with demonstrating to lawyers and people in finance that Skype is intercepted - it's quite fun to see their faces go white when they see live evidence :)

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Re: It is a move in the right direction

but at least I would know when they spy on me.

That would be 'all the time'. The question is whether or not the spying is effective enough (or ineffective enough, depending upon your point of view) for the purpose at hand.

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Anonymous Coward

I refused to use Skype since...

ever, because I never trusted the people who made it.

They paid for building Skype with money they made off the Kazaa P2P network (so dirty money from hacking, malware and piracy). I did perhaps have a grudge because I had to retro-engineer their on the wire protocols and deal with their wacky roll-your-own encryption system, that changed _constantly_.

It was therefore not surprising to me that they bit the hand that fed them by suing the people who made them billionaires. They tried to claim they transferred the Key IP rights on their P2P networks software to one of their endless shell companies, Joltid, and sued for copyright infringement.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/17/technology/companies/17skype.html

If enough people are worried about it, there are plenty of other options. The only value Skype has had for a long time is it's ubiquity. And ubiquity only gets you so far. ICQ, AIM, Yahoo... all had their days in the sun, and all fell behind. Skype is never going to become a single defacto solution like the POTS phone system was. Too many other Islands and walled gardens, like Facebook Messenger or Facetime/iMessage. Add that to cell phones, texts, email, Slack, maybe a ticket system or two, and our immediate future looks like something from Snowcrash. Fragmentation and information overload.

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Interception: interesting

I believe anything you tell me of course, but in order to convince other people, would you share a demo' of it, or the recipe, or somesuch, please?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Interception: interesting

I believe anything you tell me of course, but in order to convince other people, would you share a demo' of it, or the recipe, or somesuch, please?

I'm busy getting Skype Luxembourg to give me a formal explanation why they do it. So far, they've tried playing games with me, so now it will progress to the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection because if they're hoping I will let this lie they're seriously mistaken.

Oh, and I tend to demonstrate this live in front of audiences mainly composed of lawyers. Lawyers not only like facts and evidence, they also talk to their customers who tend to listen as they pay for their time..

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Redmond decides you'll sound better snooping will be easier for the NSA if Skype runs in the cloud in America.

FTFY

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I don't know what the last few paragraphs are about

Skype isn't P2P any more, everything's been going through MS' supernodes for a few years, and messages can blocked (e.g. you type a link to a phishing website that's on their list) so they know the contents of messages too. They're not going to change that with the move to web clients.

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Why the cloud?

All the better to listen to you my dear

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The "get Microsoft back on it's feet" plan!

1. Buy Pooch

2. Screw Pooch

3. ....

4. Repeat!

So far Skype, Nokia, Danger, ...., oh hell I haven't time to list them all.

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Possibly because they don't give a f### about any of the technology they "buy" - they are buying user bases to hopefully monetise, not the tech they eventually just discard.

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Mushroom

Can I add the company name "TrueSpace3D" to your pile of now dead Microsoft acquisitions?

I loved that companys' 3D software. It was fantastic. I even did my first character rigging in it. Then Microsoft bought the company and disposed of it like a used tissue after a very short usage.

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Damn, I forgot all about TrueSpace.

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Time to leave this wasteland

and go looking for greener pastures...

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Today, peer-to-peer IMs use AES 256 encryption while IMs passed through cloud use TLS.

AES 256 is an encryption algorithm while TLS is an encryption protocol (which includes a mechanism for selecting an algorithm, which is fairly unlikely, today, to be anything other than AES 256 but could be something weaker or stronger).

You're comparing chalk with ... not cheese, but with some method for selecting a piece of chalk.

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