back to article Skype for Business has nasty habit of closing down… for business

Microsoft has confirmed that some versions of its Skype for Business app are prone to crashes, and the issue won't be easy to resolve. The Redmond software outfit says that it has heard from users who say the 32-bit version of Skype tends to crash when run for an extended amount of time or when sharing screens, and it has …

  1. Stu 18

    bollocks

    The problem isn't 2GB memory limit, it is a programmers choice to just buffer all the screens to RAM in case they are needed - that is unnecessary and typical of the flawed thinking of throw more ram at it - you need a faster computer. Grrrr

    1. quxinot

      Re: bollocks

      Imagine if you could run a 1980's application that was built to run fast with a minimal footprint. No tinsel, no buttons that change color on a mouseover....

      ...but it'd run like hell.

      Sadly this can be applied to almost any application anymore, it seems. Sucks that our computers are a comfortable thousand times faster, but are slower to the actual end-user.

      (Yes, much of this is drive speed, and yet, it still does stand.)

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Utter bollocks

    If you're sharing just one application window, Lync does not need to make a copy of your entire desktop area to its own memory. Windows from Vista onwards is a composting windows manager, each application window has its own buffer, so the biggest buffer Lync would need would be the same size as that.

    But now that we know why application window sharing is bad, what are their excuses for the rest of it?

    1. handleoclast Silver badge

      Re: Utter bollocks

      composting windows manager

      At first I was going to point out your spelling error. Then I realized it wasn't.

      A pile of decomposing, smelly garbage just about sums it up.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Utter bollocks

        The spell chucker obviously saw the context and changed it for a better word.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Utter bollocks

        A pile of decomposing, smelly garbage just about sums it up.

        And sadly, doesn't end up with nice usable compost at the end of it.

        Too much brown matter in the compost mix?

  3. TRT Silver badge

    Total bollocks.

    If you're going to use such a shite method of providing the pixels from an application's window, you could do it with, say, mapping 16x16 blocks of the out-of-scope parts of the screen, because no-one is going to bat an eyelid at a couple of fuzzy frames in a Skype for Boneheads call. The compression algorithm is dreadful anyway, and the other participants are bound to be rescaling it as well.

    Besides, isn't this the kind of thing the OS window manager is supposed to do for you?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Total bollocks.

      Funny how actual Skype doesn't do that.

      Maybe the Skype for Business people could talk to the Skype people?

      1. InNY

        Re: Total bollocks.

        I'm told they tried, but SfB kept crashing. They are waiting for a fix to come down the pipe.

  4. doublelayer

    Why are people still on 32-bit windows

    I agree that this is really sloppy programming. I do have to wonder, however, why people aren't on 64-bit windows, given that I can't find any computer sold nowadays or even in the recent past that had a non-64--------bit capable processor. Those that have an excuse are those crap cheap machines with two or less gigs of memory, but of course they would have the same problem. I'm surprised that people are still running 32-bit windows on machines connected to expensive high-res displays. Do a lot of people just have a backlog of 32-bit only windows 7 licenses or something?

    1. MatthewSt

      Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

      It probably won't be 32 bit Windows, just 32 bit Office. Traditional add-ons, ODBC drivers are 2 reasons why you can't run 64 bit office across the corporate world. And you can't mix and match Office apps

      1. GerryMC

        Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

        Also, many 32bit Windows apps want to interact with Office apps via OLE/ActiveX. This doesn't work if Office is 64bit

    2. usbac

      Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

      Because some of us have business critical software that won't run on 64-bit Windows. Some of it due to driver issues.

      I'm typing this on an i7 Quad Core PC with Windows 7 32-bit installed! It's too much grief to constantly launch VMs for daily tasks.

      1. Nate Amsden Silver badge

        Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

        So run a 64bit host and keep that vm running all the time. I run 64bit win7 in a vm for work stuff (host OS is linux). With few exceptions it runs 24/7. 16G of ram in host but ran fine with 8G too on my previous laptop. Really has zero noticable impact to the performance of my laptop.

        Having a video chat thing need 2GB of ram regardless of how much is available to the OS is just crap.

        If anything running business critical software in a VM should improve reliability due to ease of taking snapshots and ability to isolate the workload more. Less chance of software conflicts. Also allows for greater portability between systems, copy vm to new computer and off you go.

    3. Bluto Nash

      Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

      Unfortunately, there are still a number of rather pricey technical and scientific apps that take a dump when attempting to load on x64 Windows, and the cost to upgrade to 64 bit at the application level is simply prohibitive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

        Not just software - don't forget the pricey technical and scientific (or my case) clinical hardware that attaches to the PC that doesn't have updated drivers available.

        I did try running Virtual Box with a 32bit guest OS on a 64bit host, but I found that the 32bit OS wouldn't talk to the USB attached hardware unless the host had drivers. I admit that I'm not a virtual expert, but is that normal?

    4. paulf Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

      "Why are people still on 32-bit windows". IMO The article really muddied up this aspect. There are two things at play 32-bit WINDOWS and 32-bit OFFICE.

      My work machine runs Win 7 x64 as it has 8GB RAM. But IT (in their supreme wisdom) gave everyone Office 2010 32-bit edition (in fairness I don't know if Office has a 64-bit version). AIUI, you must install the same 32-bit/64-bit version of Skype For Business to match the Office installation on the machine. So even if you have Win 7 x64 you have to use SfB 32-bit if you have Office 32-bit. From what I could see the article completely mixed up Win 7 x86/x64 and SfB 32-bit/64-bit - this aspect could have been much clearer.

      PS are 32-bit only Win 7 licenses a thing? I bought Win 7 and the box had both 32-bit and 64-bit licenses in it.

      1. Vepra

        Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

        Hey, IT tech here. The reason why your IT dept. installed 32 bit everywhere ain't dumb. The sad truth is, that Microsoft itself is pushing (recommending) the 32-bit version as better working for the Office package. Because of this most of the addins are also made just for the 32bit verions. This way, if your IT dept would install 64bit, there is a higher chance of running into issues and it would also make people in your company unable to use some of the addins they might be using. Sad part is, as you mentioned, you can't just have 32bit office and 64bit SfB or OneDrive. Everything has to match so because of Microsoft not being able to make the 64bit office as viable as the 32 bit, the other software from them will suffer like that. 32bit is a standard and everytime you try to install Office from their site, it will automaticly be 32bit unless you change it yourself. Hope that answered your question.

    5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

      I do have to wonder, however, why people aren't on 64-bit windows

      They might well be like us - using 64-bit Windows but running 32-bit Office (otherwise our business-critical 3rd-party addons will fail and there is insufficient benefit from 64-bit Office to justify the expense of re-engineering everything).

      And Office being Office, it can get really, really unhappy if you try to install 64-bit chunks of (almost) functionality onto a machine with 32-bit Office.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why are people still on 32-bit windows

      "given that I can't find any computer sold nowadays or even in the recent past that had a non-64--------bit capable processor."

      And none of the old software works in it. You know, for some people software is the tool and a computer exists solely for running the tools, it (or OS it runs) has zero value by itself.

      Changing tools just because MS fucks up again isn't any reason at all.

      Also every new PC comes forced with spyware called windows 10, why the fuck anyone would pay their own money for a spyware? Are they just stupid or have no choice at all?

      Also writer seems to ignore spyware integrated in to processor in every new(ish) Intel processor: Totally unnecessary for user, very useful for NSA.

  5. Schultz

    "For those that (for one reason or another) can't migrate to a 64-bit version of Windows"

    So that reason would be the Microsoft licensing restriction when upgrading earlier Windows versions? Or is there another reason we should be aware of?

    Anyways, the problem seems to be based in some lazy programmer choices. At least they are open about it.

  6. as2003

    WTF

    4k screen resolution = 3840 x 2160 = 8,294,400 pixels,

    2 x 4k screens = 16,588,800 pixels,

    3 bytes per pixel = 49,766,400 bytes ≈ 50MB

    How TF does that balloon to >4GB of memory usage?

    I've always said Skype is a piece of garbage.

    1. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      Re: WTF

      I could be wrong but I think this product is skype by brand only. Not skype technology. I think it may come from groove networks acquired in 2005 from what I see.

      That said I mostly dumped skype when they burned their userbase on backwards compatibility a few years ago.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: WTF

      Skype for Business != Skype

      Because if you're spent loads of money buying a videoconferencing developer and software that actually works, why wouldn't you have a completely separate piece of software developed by a separate team for your business customers?

    3. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: WTF

      3 bytes per pixel only provides a colour without context. If stored in a 2D array then you require 2 bytes for an X coordinate and 2 bytes for a Y coordinate as an absolute minimum so now we reach 7 bytes per pixel. Now we're up to 116MB. If the array uses an int instead of a short, we reach 11 bytes per pixel - 182MB. That's still only ~9% of the 2GB limit for an application but as with all of these situations *It's more complicated than that*

      1. Annihilator

        Re: WTF @ArrZarr

        You don’t need to store the coordinate with the colour data, by your logic a 7680 x 2160 24-bit bitmap would require 116MB, and a quick test in MS Paint proves that is not the case - it’s 47.5MB in line with as2003’s maths.

        As for using ints to store it, well that’s just bonkers and bad programming - which to be fair, is the whole point.

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge

          Re: WTF @ArrZarr

          Fair enough, I rescind my point about file sizes.

          I don't rescind the point about it being more complicated than that (probably)

          1. Annihilator

            Re: WTF @ArrZarr

            Oh definitely more complicated, but 90% of the added complication will likely be due to developer ineptitude or laziness. They say the bug is due to a memory limit/constraint, as if S4B running up multiple gig of RAM would be fine otherwise.

    4. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

      Re: WTF

      You've almost figured it out. If a long-running process suddenly dies, that's VERY strong evidence of a memory leak. Skype for business isn't using memory--it's consuming it.

      One of my most fond professional memories was reading about Skype suffering a major outage the same day that the M$ purchase was announced. The M$ fanboy in the office did not appreciate my humor.

      I'm still laughing, though.

  7. NoNBNforMe

    End of Life

    There will be no fix because SfB is being retired / replaced with Teams.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: End of Life

      Out of the frying pan into the fire.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: End of Life

      What, you mean they the chance to fuck everything up again?

    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: End of Life

      There will be no fix because SfB is being retired / replaced with Teams.

      If they didn't want the problem to occour so much, they could stop forcibly installing Skype for Business with office 365 installations. And they could stop running it as soon as the computer loads by defualt.

  8. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Suggestions?

    This is timely indeed, with my SO heading off for two weeks at the Chetham's Piano Summer School.

    My next project was figuring out the best way for me, on Linux in Vancouver, to "Skype" her on Win 10 in Britain.

    Maybe I'll just write a letter. If I can find a postage stamp.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Suggestions?

      Wrong Skype. This is Skype for Business, AKA The Client Formally Known As Lync. They have nothing to do with each other except the name which confuses people.

      But if you want suggestions, try Wire.com.

    2. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Suggestions?

      There's the telephone network which slowly even becomes video capable.

    3. Gnomalarta

      Re: Suggestions?

      You could try Zoom.

  9. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Anecdotal evidence

    I have to use Lync / Skype for Business for a client (dedicated machine so I can't be sure of the details). Lync used to flaky as hell but got replaced by Skype some time ago and has since been pretty stable. VoIP on it is fine as long as it not a phone call, ie. conferences are fine but my colleagues tell me that when they use Skype for making and receiving calls, it's unreliable. So they all tend to use the VoIP phone sitting on the same network…

  10. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    So in effect, Microsoft have just confirmed that the Skype is a POS and that their coders are crap ! Funny, most users found this out decades ago !

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A quick fix...

    Error trapping.

    pBuffer = malloc ( SIZE );

    if ( NULL == pBuffer )

    {

    // Handle error without crashing

    }

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have a version of it installed. It doesn't work in any meaningful way.

    If I work from home on a corporate device (all MS end to end) can I use Skype for business to call into the office? Nope doesn't work.

    We have Mitel IP phones on desks in the business. I ask "can we replace these with Skype for Business thus having (in theory) a universal comms system with IM, Video and calls?"

    'Yes' is the answer, except it's too expensive due to MS licensing.

    I do wonder just WTF is the point of half the stuff MS peddles these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would suggest that the point from MS's perspective is to put money in their pocket. I, truly, believe that they don't care that products don't work as advertised as long as they can tie us into their ecosystem. People should be able to sue them for this as the product is clearly not reliable.

  13. Colin_Welwyn

    It's not just a Windows 32-bit issue

    When I read this article I was amazed, it was like hey that's my problem. I work from home and often share my screen while working on projects with colleges and sometimes, but not always, S4B will crash and has even brought windows(10) down with it on occasion.

    It does appear the longer I share my screen the more chance it has of happening which does point to some kind of issue building up over time.

    I have two monitors, both running 1920 x 1200 so plenty of pixels for it to map. However I run Windows 10 64-bit and (according to the about skype panel) I'm running 64-bit S4B as well.

  14. Nano nano

    More is Less ...

    That's funny - Skype used to ruin OK for the last 10 years on smaller systems ...

  15. Nano nano

    Slackers

    Oh well, there's always Slack ...

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