back to article Please, PLEASE, Skype... Don't kill our apps and headsets, plead devs

Third-party Skype developers are rallying against a Microsoft decision that threatens to break the voice-chat service for partners and millions of users. A Change.org petition has been launched that calls on Skype, and owner Microsoft, to reverse their decision to kill the nine-year-old Skype desktop programming interface in …

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  1. raving angry loony

    Same old, same old

    Oh look, Microsoft shafting partners again. Admittedly the poor bastards didn't realize they were going to be Microsoft partners when they started, but it's the same old song with the same old refrain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Same old, same old

      What can I use instead of Skype ?

      1. raving angry loony

        Re: Same old, same old

        Pick something:

        https://lmddgtfy.net/?q=all+the+alternatives+to+skype

  2. Jolyon Smith

    1 out of 3 aint bad.

    I doubt that phones and headsets rely on this API, unless they in turn depend on apps which rely on the API.

    The key link in the chain being "apps". Specifically /desktop/ apps.

    The reaction and participation on the petition - or rather the distinct lack there-of - is a pretty good indicator of the impact and importance of this API. The internet says "meh".

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: 1 out of 3 aint bad.

      "The reaction and participation on the petition - or rather the distinct lack there-of - is a pretty good indicator of the impact and importance of this API. The internet says "meh"."

      Except that most end users won't have a clue what all this means until they discover that the Skype peripheral they got given for Christmas last year stops working before this Christmas.

      Ok, so perhaps there's not that many people out there who are going to care or even notice, but it is crap of MS to do this. The API was well established, used by quite a wide variety of hardware and software, wasn't doing any harm, and wouldn't have taken any effort to leave it in Skype alongside whatever new API MS want to introduce.

      Gaining traction and market share in communications is a key business goal for MS, and they're not in an unassailable position. Skype is not the whole of the mobile comms market. Doing something that pisses off even a small portion of the customer base would seem to be a stupid thing to do.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: pissing off even a small portion of the customer base

        is now standard MS operating procedure.

        1. Wade Burchette

          Re: pissing off even a small portion of the customer base

          Funny, I thought it was pissing off a LARGE portion of the customer base was the standard MS operating procedure.

          1. Christian Berger Silver badge

            Re: pissing off even a small portion of the customer base

            Who said pissing off small and large portions of the customer base were exclusive options?

    2. Suricou Raven

      Re: 1 out of 3 aint bad.

      I've seen 'skype phones' that function not just as USB audio devices, but also have a keypad for calling phone numbers, and will automatically answer an incoming skype call when lifted. I imagine the API is for those.

  3. TJ1

    Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

    "Embrace, extend, and extinguish", also known as "Embrace, extend, and exterminate", is a phrase that the U.S. Department of Justice found was used internally by Microsoft to describe its strategy for entering product categories involving widely used standards, extending those standards with proprietary capabilities, and then using those differences to disadvantage its competitors.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embrace,_extend_and_extinguish

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

      Ironically I think this is an attempt to snuff out some of the advantages of the traditional Microsoft desktop so that the flavour-of-the-month-UI version of Skype is not disadvantaged by comparison.

  4. John Tserkezis

    I would have been rather annoyed by this...

    I used to use an app that relied on the API.

    "used to" being the operative term. Since I canned Skype, I don't have to worry about that, and any of the many other reasons either.

    I still get urges from friends to contact them on Skype, and further badgering when I say I have nothing to do with that piece of crap anymore.

    And you know, I haven't had a single reason to reconsider, and every time I read about it, it just gets worse.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I would have been rather annoyed by this...

      I don't know what you are are talking about, I use Skype several time a week for business calls and it's an indispensable tool like any other MS Office tool. Nothing is perfect but it's more than fit for purpose.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I would have been rather annoyed by this...

        "I don't know what you are are talking about..."

        Err... he was talking about the fact that he no longer uses or needs to use Skype, wasn't that difficult to understand. Or did you think he said "Cavehomme2 never uses Skype any more".

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Windows

        An award has been awarded!

        For the world's longest oxmoron-

        "...an indispensable tool like any other MS Office tool"

        unless you know otherwise!

  5. dervheid

    Nothing to see here...

    Microstuffed buys new toy

    Microstuffed breaks new toy trying to 'improve' it

    Move along now...

  6. Big-nosed Pengie

    Skype was dead as soon as Microsoft bought it.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      FAIL

      Hah!

      It was dead far earlier.

      And I don't mean "mercilessly tortured by eBay in a damp cellar".

      Why it even exists and hasn't been replaced by something that works and actually makes sense will forever be one of the mysteries of the Internet.

  7. bazza Silver badge

    They weren't kidding...

    "They believe the HTML-based Skype URI interface lacks the rich functionality needed to build decent third-party services and products for Skype."

    And they're right. Looks like all the URI interface allows you to do is start up Skype in one way or another, not access the audio/video data streams themselves. That's a severe curtailment of functionality!

    1. Soruk

      Re: They weren't kidding...

      I'll have to stick with my current version, running in a Linux VM, to connect to SIPtoSIS - incoming Skype calls are routed to my SIP-based home phone system. Text-based IMs get ignored, as I don't keep the virtual desktop open.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They weren't kidding...

        But sadly, no-one ever calls you.

  8. dan1980

    Every time. EVERY TIME.

    Maybe it's my pessimism but every time a big company buys a smaller company, this kind of thing always happens.

    Oh, there's always the requisite, glowing press releases, presumably typed with one hand while crossing fingers on the others. There are always big love-ins from both sides about the acquisition/merge being "Great news for our customers" and offering "opportunities to better serve their needs", gushing about how they are "looking forward to working with such a committed and talented team" and how their "insights, ideas and experience" and "shared vision for the future" will allow them to "provide new and innovative technologies"

    But in the end, the acquired IP is re-branded, re-shaped and regurgitated, leaving what was once a useful, flexible product as nothing more than a vehicle for market share, losing everything that made it unique and usable in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Great news for our customers"

      "Great news for our customers", "opportunities to better serve their needs", "looking forward to working with such a committed and talented team", "insights, ideas and experience", "shared vision for the future" etc are all random, computer-generated fluff for PR and marketing people. Probably are generated by the same program that creates wine descriptions (tangy, smoky, with a hint of chocolate and blueberry notes).

      1. dan1980

        Re: "Great news for our customers"

        @AC

        I think you're onto something there!

      2. Lost in Cyberspace

        Re: "Great news for our customers"

        Small product gets lots of useful and unique features.

        Small product gets bought by big business.

        Big business politics get in the way and maim the product so that it only works on a certain platform or with a certain type of ID.

        Product stops being what it set out to be and loses its original customer base.

        Skype is just one example. Photo Beamer is another (now Nokia only, no longer on iphone).

    2. Kirk Northrop
      FAIL

      Re: Every time. EVERY TIME.

      How about big company eBay who owned Skype before MS did?

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Every time. EVERY TIME.

      Big corporations are where really good ideas go to die.

      It's built in to the culture.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Every time. EVERY TIME.

      That sounds exactly like the words used when EA bought the game middleware company I was in.

      It also sounds like the same fate of the product (though it was starting to go wrong before EA).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lync

    Skype is so unreliable i cant believe anyone actually uses it. They should migrate everyone on to Lync!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lync

      Lync is very poor, that's probably one of the reasons they bought Skype.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Lync

        If you think Lync is poor, you should try its predecessor, Office Communicator. That's what we're stuck using in the office. It's embarrassingly bad.

        A lot of companies, like the one I work for, have blanket bans on all peer to peer software including Skype. I just wonder what they're going to do when Communicator/Lync is taken out back and shot repeatedly in the head and replaced with Skype.

        Probably start using Lotus Notes just for email. (Don't laugh, I actually worked somewhere years ago which used it for just that.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lync

          Most IBMers today who use Notes on a daily basis actually believe it is just an email service, so why should everybody else not think the same!

          What bothers me is when one of the senior IBM exec's send a mail through Notes with a document attached to the mail to everybody under their jurisdiction, rather than sending a mail with a document link into a Notes document database.

          I pity the poor techies who have to be able to keep Notes running for IBM when this daftness happens. And if IBM can't use Notes properly, then why should anybody else. No wonder IBM can't sell it as a product to anybody.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lync

          "Probably start using Lotus Notes just for email. (Don't laugh, I actually worked somewhere years ago which used it for just that.)"

          I still work in a place that does.

          1. Rick Giles
            Linux

            Re: Lync

            " I actually worked somewhere years ago which used it for just that."

            I to worked at a place that was aquired by another place and they brought Notes with them and were kicking the MS Exchange admins out as fast as they could.

            A few people understood how to use Notes for more than just email and actually improved their departments efficiency.

            After I left, I hear there was a rally cry from the Wintel group and they began re-instating MS Exchange.

            I bet you can guess what happened to everyones productivity after that...

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "iPhones, iPads, Android gear and Windows Phone"

    For now.

    I suspect most of these protocols are buried in products 1000s of users use (but of course don't realize they are using).

    But they will.

    1. Anthony 13
      Unhappy

      Re: "iPhones, iPads, Android gear and Windows Phone"

      You got that right - lucky I read this, at least now I'll know why my Skype phone won't be working when I try to call friends and family come Christmas time. It's a shame - it was handy to have one 'normal' phone that could do both POTS and Skype.

      1. Soruk

        Re: "iPhones, iPads, Android gear and Windows Phone"

        I think the trick here is to not update your copy of Skype, if your current installation works it should continue to work until such time Microsoft change the protocol rendering all existing installations incompatible.

        1. JohnG

          Re: "iPhones, iPads, Android gear and Windows Phone"

          "I think the trick here is to not update your copy of Skype..."

          Like this:

          HKLM\Software\Policies\Skype\Phone, DisableVersionCheck, REG_DWORD = {0,1}

          Personally, I like the reduced advertising and lack of home screen in Skype version 4.2 for Windows.

  12. Joe Montana

    Proprietary garbage

    What did these developers honestly expect when they developed for a proprietary API locked to a proprietary service provided by only a single vendor? And now they are reduced to getting down on hands and knees and begging that vendor not to screw them over.

    If you'd made SIP compatible devices then they would all still be working and you'd have literally hundreds of providers to choose from too.

    I have always avoided skype, and this is one of the main reasons why.

    1. Why Not?

      Re: Proprietary garbage

      They probably do write for SIP etc but Skype had too much market share to ignore.

      Microsoft seem to have pulled the rug from under their feet with no way to replace the functionality their customers have now.

      If M$ had said in 2 years the API will be deprecated ,

      it will be replaced by URIs,

      please work with us to make URIs a suitable replacement,

      APIs will be retired in 4 years.

      Then there would be no problem.

      Its M$ targeting their feet again.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    It get's a little boring

    But still holds much truth:

    • Discontinue (heavily) used service without proper replacement.
    • ???
    • Profit!

    I slowly come to conclude that some higher up at Microsoft is a huge South Park fan ;) First the bonus for their resellers (partners), then TechNet, now this? Or colours and such in Visual Studio?

    One can only dread at the idea where this is going.

    1. pepper

      Re: It get's a little boring

      I actually think some of the high up execs have been replaced by linux-running androids that are not set on imploding the company with incompetence, surely nothing else can explain the recent events?

  14. Robert Ramsay

    Obligatory XKCD reference

    http://xkcd.com/1172/

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory XKCD reference

      Love XKCD

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Arachnoid
    Holmes

    Call centres

    Breaking the API may hit many a call centre......maybe we shall see a reduction in unwanted calls now

  17. Jess

    Already I can't do video chat with the latest Skype versions

    I have to tell anyone I want to video conference with to go here and install this version:

    https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA12252/why-can-t-i-make-video-calls-on-the-latest-version-of-skype-for-windows-desktop

    (Note the on page information is incorrect, it says "we’ve created a special version of Skype for Windows desktop that will allow you to continue making video calls on older PCs." the truth is it allows video calls TO older versions of Skype.

    Seems sticking to older versions, may be a solution to this issue too.

  18. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Instead of the Skype devs removing well established API's they need to work on making skype more reliable for making video calls. I skype regularly to family living in Australia both of us are on a reasonable speed cable broadband but yet skype constantly drops calls or the video quality looks like a Picasso painting flick book.

    Apart from the fact it has a large user base i fail to see how Microsoft expects to make money from Skype, if they start to charge for it people will migrate to one of the other free services and if ads become too intrusive they will force people onto other services.

  19. Arachnoid

    Advertising

    Thats how,so expect to see banner and pop up ads appearing some time soon

  20. Wize

    I guess now would be a good time to...

    ...launch a competitor to Skype (or heavily promote an existing one) that promises not to break links to such hardware.

  21. h3

    Its annoying that the feature to pull any files remotely from your computer was removed from Skydrive in Windows 8.1 (They seem to be taking the Gnome mentality).

  22. rcorrect
    Meh

    Shortly after Microsoft acquired Skype it stopped working with http://www.imo.im and other services. Now if I wish to use Skype on my netbook I must use their bloated application that has always sucked but now sucks even more!

  23. Zot
    Trollface

    What they need is more...

    ...developers, developers, developers.

    XNA anyone? It's wonderful! Please come and develop with it... gone.

    Windows Live anyone?

    Silverlight anyone? Oh, nobody uses that anyway. ;p

    .NET anyone? No that's fine, really, all fine, nothing to worry about, move along now. No, really.

    1. BongoJoe

      Re: What they need is more...

      You have hit the nail on the head there. I have a massive Visual Studio 6 project (which works still though ADO is now crap with the new improved operating systems called Vista, Win 7 etc) and the only course for me is for a massive rewrite, which could take months, into .Net.

      But what guarantee is there that that won't be dropped and made incompatible in future releases of Windows?

      Once upon a time one could choose alternate compilers such as Borland C, Turbo Pascal, Delphi, Objective C and so on and they'd work. Now it just feels that it's .Net is the only way to go and this frightens me because who is to say that we won't be having threads on here soon saying ".Net is now twelve years old, it is now obselete".

      Silverlight? I don't think that I ever saw that live in the wild. Windows Live? I see a lot of these applets appear on new machines as does crapware on new computers.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: What they need is more...

        But what guarantee is there that that won't be dropped and made incompatible in future releases of Windows?

        Regime Uncertainty is what will bring us out of the Great Recession! Ask any politician.

  24. Bod

    Should have been SIP

    Never was a fan of Skype. Hyped up, inefficient and proprietary, and pretty much killed SIP as a standard that a lot of hardware manufacturers were already supporting but no one used because it was all 'Skype this' and 'Skype that', and no one took the time to invest in quality SIP services.

  25. Gordon 11

    The real reason for Skype URIs only

    From the Skype desktop programming interface page:

    Currently, Skype URIs do not interact with the Linux desktop client, Skype for Linux Version 4.0.

    so a little irony in that page being served by Apache running on a Ubuntu server.

  26. ecofeco Silver badge

    Devs and customers, meet bus

    As in under.

  27. ElNumbre
    WTF?

    BlueJeans

    Anyone know the likelihood of this breaking BlueJeans ability to join Skype to non-proprietary video conferences?

  28. Frances Banana
    Holmes

    Nobody is surprised

    We use Skype for conferencing between devs that are scattered around Europe. I also use it for family business: it breaks, it craps, it goes down. Aaaaand the Android Skype App was designed and programmed by monkeys that escaped from meth lab and got hooked on psylocybin shrooms. I am sorry, but after the "big upgrade" I could not - and still cannot - find my way in that MESS (and it's a lot more difficult to switch this garbage off!).

    Microsoft does not care about shooting millions of dependency-customers. Why? Do not ask me, I cannot explain that. I have a smelling they are slowly executing the "death by 1000 cuts" scheme - but of course in their situation it's a suicidal behavior.

    If there is anything else I could dump on the rotten cake of Skype under MIcrosoft's control: I have been to Finland last week. If ELOP is ever going to visit that country again - well, pure IMPUDENCE. Finland used to live Nokia. ELOP showed them how to sh%^ on Nokia and get big $ for that. I really hope this is going to end in court. Baaadly for Elop & Microsoft.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alternative to Skype

    I use Tango on Android, regularly video call US to UK and has been pretty reliable.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Charles Smith

    Micro$oft internal politics

    Once again Micro$oft shafts its users. Probably due to internal politics rather than deliberate.

  32. peter_dtm
    Black Helicopters

    once upon a time

    there was a nice little app that let you phone & IM through any firewall/route

    and it was secure

    hell Tambo Mbeke (sometime successor to Mandela) stopped South African Telkom from trying to make it illegal - because; as he recalled it had allowed him to stay in contact with the ANC in South Africa while he was hidding safely in the US. Winnie Mandela also claimed to have used it to circumvent spies (presumably to help her 'football team' plan on where the spare tires were going). Even Tutu apparently used it - along with thousands of good SA citizens eager not to pay SA Telkom stupid money.

    Since MS aquired it; it has become another piece of bloated crap; and; the firm's security team have quite easily blocked it,

    unlike most fairy stories that start 'Once upon a time' this story has an unhappy ending.

    What on earth is it for now it's been perverted ?

  33. lunatik96

    M$ shafts partners? where's the news?

    Any one NOT see this coming?

  34. johnwerneken

    Count me in

    Skype desktop headset BE my phone.

    Hate mobile anything really. Refuse to use.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Collective

    Read this while using a dual Skype/Landline phone, was waiting for that to fail due to the small screen being against my ear where it can't show adverts even if it was coded.

    The desktop option must die because the metro app requires an MS log on, without an ms log on you are insufficiently leveraged or some other corporate term meaning not being screwed hard enough.

    I only got back into windows to use SDR-RadioV2 but as local noise conditions mean that is not used much right now I'm heading back the other way.

    Desktop at work is Linux again, home PC's slowly going same way.

    It's like waking from a dream where something nasty was sat on my chest.

    I don't want to be part of the MS collective the way it is going, they need to have a second route for people who still want to think, have 3+ windows open at the same time etc.

  36. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    Microsoft(R) Skype(TM) is not real Skype

    Let's face it, they're going to keep "Microsofting" the Skype service until it isn't usable anymore. Everyone should just move over to Google Talk right now and get it over with.

  37. Daniel Voyce

    Is no one going to mention the car crash that was MSN Messenger Integration?

    I honestly think I could have drunkenly shat out a better method to do that compared to what Microsoft has done with it! I unfortunately have to use Skype for managing external dev teams some of which I originally had to deal with on Messenger and the fact that in order to get my Skype & Messenger contacts I have to login with my defunct Hotmail address (through a crappy afterthought link on the Linux Client) - logging in with my Skype details only gives me my skype contacts. Not to mention the silent crashes and piss poor performance on the Linux client.

    Are there actually any reasonable alternatives?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Callburner

    I raised this with those clever people at Netralia a month or so ago, and this morning they sent me this:

    "I have some good news: We just released a new version of CallBurner which doesn't require the Skype API (Skype are retiring the Skype API in December 2013).

    We recommend you update to this version of CallBurner as this doesn't use the Skype API and it works with the latest version of Skype:

    http://www.callburner.com/download2/setup_callburner_1_0_0_88.exe"

    I'll wait until Skype breaks I think =]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Skype URI Compliant Replacement for SkypeMate

      The developer of the SkypeMate application and the original manufacturer of the USB Phones it supported was Yealink.

      Many of the wide range of USB phones produced by Yealink were re-branded and sold under other brand names such as US Robotics, Radian, Sedna, Manhattan, Bell Phones, Nexotek, Simply Phone, Sharper Image and XACT. Millions of these very high quality USB Phones have been sold worldwide for use with Skype.

      While the manufacturer has no plans to fully re-develop the SkypeMate application as is needed to be Skype URI compliant to work with the new API interface free versions of Skype due out at the end of this year, PCPhoneSoft.com will be stepping in to make sure further software upgrades are available to Yealink USB Phone users.

      A new Skype URI compliant software upgrade that will take the place of the existing SkypeMate application for Yealink USB Phones is currently under development by PCPhoneSoft.com - a well established 3rd party developer of applications for USB phone devices. A prototype of the software upgrade that does not depend on the Skype API is already working in the lab and it is scheduled to be released by the end of this year.

      A full version of the software upgrade that will allow Yealink USB Phones to continue to be used with Skype will be able to be downloaded and trialed by users for 7 days prior to making any type of purchase decision. An alternative software upgrade that will allow Yealink USB Phones to be used with Google Voice will also be available. Exact pricing has not yet been established but is anticipated to be somewhere in the region of $10.

      A new website to be dedicated to the software upgrade for Yealink USB Phone users is in the process of being set up by PCPhoneSoft.com and will be announced in the very near future.

  39. A J Stiles
    Holmes

    What else were you expecting?

    If you made your business dependent upon somebody else's proprietary technology, then you are entirely at their mercy. Microsoft own Skype, and now they have the entire Skype userbase over a barrel. (They always did, really; except it used to be a much bigger barrel, so the curvature was non-obvious.)

    I always said, Skype was the diametric opposite of what telecommunications should be. It was a closed protocol, it featured obfuscation layers to prevent reverse-engineering at a cost to performance, they evidently didn't want for it to be compatible with anything else. And that is why I swore I would never touch it. Because if your phone can only talk to other phones of the same kind, it's no good as a phone. That's why we had national standards for the early private telephone companies, so that subscribers would never be tied to a particular network but could call subscribers with other telephone companies. That's why we have GSM, the Global Standard for Mobile telephony; so that any handset made by any manufacturer can connect to any country's phone network. Analogue phone exchanges on the PSTN are still compatible with basically any instrument that has an induction coil and a dial. My Asterisk server at home patches into the one at work; it's connected to an eclectic selection of phones including a GPO 746, a DTMF-only ex-switchboard phone, a Zultys ZIP4x4 SIP phone, a three-handset cordless phone system via a Grandstream HandyTone 286 and -- within wi-fi range -- SipDroid on my mobile. Oh, and the analogue card that connects to the analogue phones supports a cool feature that the PSTN does not: You can use pulse dialling to select from menus!

    Someone really needs to get a SIP / IAX phone client out there that's easy to install and use. It's not for want of information. These are true open protocols, thoroughly documented; and the reference implementations are themselves Open Source.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anything that has been touched by Microsoft gets tainted

    Oh what a surprise...NOT.

    Skype became a turd after its acquisition by Microsoft. Check out the numerous complaints on its support forums. Skype became even worse after Microsoft decided to shut down MSN and migrate MSN users to Skype.

    Nowadays, Microsoft is merely fixated with integrating Skype into its 'devices and services' ecosystem, or making Skype conform to the Win8/Metro 'experience'. Everything else is secondary.

    Forget about a petition. People would do well to wean themselves off Skype and switch to an alternative client for VoIP calls, preferably one that adheres to open VoIP standards. Do not let Skype snatch the narrative. Let Skype die off like RealPlayer. Remember the bad old days when you needed RealPlayer for a lot of content on the Internet?

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