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Microsoft Software Linux

Skype For Linux: Dead? Or Just Resting? 259

New submitter somebearouthere writes: Skype for Linux was updated in 2014 to v4.3 and has since sat there without an update while its counterpart on other platforms has been receiving updates. Sometime in 2015, Microsoft quietly abandoned that version of the product, showing back to Linux users who had paid for subscriptions with the expectation that one day they too would be able to finally use group video chat, have a real 64-bit version available and get an improved UI. Skype developers have just thrown in the towel and it has left the user base frustrated. Last month many users reported that Microsoft had broken the app's ability to join calls. Two Linux enthusiasts penned the issue in a blog signed by "lots of angry Linux users." I have contacted Microsoft numerous times over the past few weeks but it remains tight-lipped on the matter. I have a feeling Microsoft isn't going to update Skype for Linux.
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Skype For Linux: Dead? Or Just Resting?

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  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @04:04PM (#51817727) Homepage

    Did anyone really expect anything different when Microsoft bought them?

    • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @04:07PM (#51817755)
      It's just pining for the fjords
    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @04:17PM (#51817867) Homepage Journal

      What, continued development for at least three years? ;-)

      And, for all their faults, Microsoft hasn't been ignoring rivals. Skype for Android is available and up to date, and if anything development improved on that after the Microsoft takeover (the first Android version was released shortly before Microsoft did) - the original was pretty awful and couldn't route calls over Wifi, for example.

      The client for GNU/Linux still works, I still use it, no it's not perfect, but I think it's a little too early to imply Microsoft is to blame for Skype's poorer showing on that platform. Microsoft does seem to be playing better with the other children of late, hopefully it'll continue to do so, and the hopeful note at the end of TFS will be well placed.

      • And, for all their faults, Microsoft hasn't been ignoring rivals. Skype for Android is available and up to date, and if anything development improved on that after the Microsoft takeover

        If your definition of "available" includes: so bloated that it doesn't really work on older Android phones, then, yes, it works. On my SII, notifications don't work. Starting the app takes ages (and I have to ensure the screen timeout doesn't interrupt the app while starting).

      • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

        Isn't that the major thing though. Who the hell uses a desktop version of Skype any more? If I want a Skype voice call I will just use my mobile phone, which is a million times more convenient. If I want a Skype video call I will go for my tablet first or phone if out and about.

        I don't know anyone using desktop skype clients these days. I have even uninstalled the version on my mothers laptop because she does not use it and it's one less thing to be worried about.

    • by Marginal Coward ( 3557951 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @04:35PM (#51818061)

      Yeah, don't you just hate it when somebody pays $8.5 billion for something [wikipedia.org], then refuses to give it away. No wonder everyone here thinks they're evil...

      (Note to moderators: Since the system here provides no "Irony" tag, please just ignore this comment if you don't get it. :-)

      • by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @05:03PM (#51818327)

        The Skype client is not the product. They give it away on all platforms. So not supporting the Linux version is not about losing money in any direct sense. Presumably the Skype folks thought it was worth supporting Linux when they were independent, so I'm guessing this has something to do with Microsoft not wanting traditional desktop Linux to have decent Skype support. Android is supported, because it's the most popular mobile platform out there. Don't support Android, and you don't support mobile. Apple folks have their own facetime thingy.

        Anyway, Skype is supposed to be an alternatove phone system. If it's not universal, it's not a phone system. So, even if the numbers aren't huge, desktop Linux makes sense. So, too, would Chromebooks. But yeah, they can't do everything. Still, they had Linux nailed down pretty well, so...

        • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

          so I'm guessing this has something to do with Microsoft not wanting traditional desktop Linux to have decent Skype support

          Waitaminute...are you suggesting that a business would pay $8.5 billion for something they give away, as part of a larger strategy of building a moat around the things they sell? Gosh, that's dastardly. No wonder everyone here thinks they're evil... ;-)

          Well, sounds crazy to me, but if it actually works, maybe those Redhat folks should try giving away something and selling something different. Here's an idea - maybe they could give away free source code as part of a larger business strategy of selling servi

        • They charge to call regular phones, and they're perfectly happy to take money from you for this regardless of platform.

          Skype is also supported on Macs.

          And it's not a universal phone system because you can't make emergency (police, fire, etc.) calls with it. Check their TOS.

      • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @05:32PM (#51818579)
        Warning: this is tin-foil-hat logic, but stick with me on this... Microsoft made 2 massive "purchases" of non-revenue-generating technologies [Hotmail and Skype]. In the case of Hotmail, they instantly got access to all traffic [metadata and content]. In case of Skype, one of the first things they did was re-configure the software to force all communications to route through their servers. For those who don't know, the pre-Microsoft versions of Skype only needed the Skype core servers to work out if their counterparty was "on line" and to pick up their IP address. The call setup and handling was done endpoint-to-endpoint with no server interaction. Now we learn, thanks to Edward Snowden, that the "Five Eyes" agencies are sucking up all net traffic for analysis... Now, I have ***ZERO*** hard evidence, but riddle me this: why would Microsoft take a service like Skype [one with limited revenue] and buy it in the first place? Having bought it, why would they massively increase the operational costs by forcing all traffic to go through Microsoft owned servers - infrastructure they would have to pay for? Just the cost of that infrastructure would have wiped out any profits from Skype for decades in advance... Unless [tinfoil hat please] they were getting massive tax breaks or other deals from the government, to off-set against the costs... If there is any shred of fact in the complete fiction/theory I've written here, then Microsoft didn't really pay that full price for Skype: or, if they did, they had help.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 31, 2016 @06:51PM (#51819159)

          No need for the conspiracy/tin-foil angle here, and I think you are 100% correct.

          Note that Intel from the NSA drag-net is not only used to "catch terrorists" but also for economic espionage and to enhance the USA's bargaining position. Now the true value of Skype traffic interception becomes clear: think about how many businesses, and even government workers (those who should know better) use Skype on a daily basis. For a long time it was "the way" to make calls over the internet.

          The only valid use for Skype in today's world is for calling your grandma and asking about her hemorrhoids. Personally I've switched to G+ "Hangouts" for my personal online "chats". Google is no less evil/trustworthy than Microsoft, but their software seems to work better and it's easier to coordinate with elderly family members.

          I have noticed for a while now that there is a distinct lack of easy-to-use, P2P, voice and video chat programs, with strong encryption. I guess the challenge is that barring significant input from some benevolent white-hat super-coder, it will probably never happen.

          PS: As an aside, the pre-Microsoft Skype protocol was even better than you think. The main challenge was devising a way for any one node to locate another node in an efficient, fast, distributed way. The algorithm would allow regular clients to check their net connection, and if open, would act as peer-discovery servers. The traffic burden for this was minimal, just locating peers, not routing traffic. So there was never *any* need for centralised Skype servers, or at least, they were very minimal. Remember that Skype was written by a hard-core group of Romanian programmers and they sure didn't have the server infrastructure to develop a centralised system.

          • Skype was already switching away from P2P when they were acquired. [zdnet.com] This was fairly [theverge.com] widely [arstechnica.com] reported [geek.com]. Their P2P algorithm sucked, and was responsible for at least a couple global service outages. It just didn't scale as well as dedicated hardware.

            • I don't think that those links support the idea that the change in architecture was not designed to enable wiretaps.

              One of the links talks about discussions within Skype about handing data over to law enforcement. The actual implementation of moving to hosted supernodes started while Skype was owned by Silver Lake Partners. If you think that Silver Lake Partners is independent of Microsoft, I have a bridge to sell you.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          No, because I run Skype servers at the enterprise level for my company and our traffic does not go through Microsoft. Before that it was called Lync and before that it was Office Communications Server. That's like comparing Hotmail to Exchange and calling it just "Email".

          • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

            So you're running a renamed version of lync, which existed before microsoft bought skype and is not the same thing at all.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        What did they buy though. Did that money really by us, then why did we not get any of it. Fuck skype management, since when are end users always up for sale. Prove to M$ they bought nothing, drop skype, the faster you drop it, the faster M$ will stop monitoring your calls for marketing information and the sooner a better client comes to the fore. End users get nothing each and every time they get sold more akin to service slaves than anything else. Not happy drop the service, another will rise.

    • Skype lets me make free or nearly free audio and video calls to my relatives, who are scattered across 3 continents (and none of them the same as the one I live in).

      I'm quite satisfied with version 4.3, and I'm actually glad they've not updated it.

      People are clamouring for an update from Microsoft should be careful about what they wish for.

      • Buy how do you get ads if you're stuck with such an outdated version? You're just not getting the proper Skype experience.

    • by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @06:44PM (#51819115)

      Mumble [wikipedia.org] has already achieved an impressive level of functionality, is popular with gamers, and could use a bunch of helping hands right about now to get it the rest of the way towards truly slick. Open source => not spyware (unlike Skype).

      Setting up a Mumble (Murmur) server is dead simple.

    • i certainly didn't expect anything else. it should be made law that all communications software of this type should be able to interact with each other so all APIs should be published. imagine if nokia phones could only call nokia phones. i wonder if we can talk the EU into investigating the possibility.
      • all communications software of this type should be able to interact with each other so all APIs should be published

        Actually, there are standards and RFC for communication protocols. Just google SIP. And there's plenty of SIP clients and server too, all interoperable with each other. Of course, Skype is not SIP, but (almost) all of its competitors are, and do communicate with each other...

    • But hey, now they'll let you run skype for linux on Ubuntu on Windows...
  • That is what Skype for Web is for.

  • Native clients (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WarJolt ( 990309 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @04:07PM (#51817743)

    Aren't we past the point of requiring native clients?

    WebRTC has taken over and web standards are becoming more capable all the time. If Microsoft doesn't step up their game they will be replaced.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I, for one, HATE my IM clients in web browsers. HATE. My company recently adopted Slack, and I use the IRC gateway to access it, because web UIs suck for messaging.

      • I, for one, HATE my IM clients in web browsers. HATE. My company recently adopted Slack, and I use the IRC gateway to access it, because web UIs suck for messaging.

        There is a desktop client for slack, but I get the impression its just browser based underneath, just with lipstick and a dress on. Doesn't work for pigs either.

      • I am with you....

        Further, I hate installing a new desktop client for every freaking IM client. That is why I bought the lifetime license for Trillian years ago.

        Trillian continues to work pretty well for most clients with basic functionality (which is all I need).

    • I'm hoping there will never be a day when there will be no native clients to replace web clients. I have yet to see a web client that feels and behaves exactly like a native client.
    • Re:Native clients (Score:5, Insightful)

      by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @06:11PM (#51818907) Journal

      Perhaps you are.
      I'm not.
      I don't want to search for a specific tab in my 200 open tabs just to do a call.
      Perhaps when 'web based apps' are able to show in the dock and open their old browser tab. Otherwise: no.
      Programs were invented 50 years ago for a reason. As far as I can tell: the browser will never replace true programs, it is simply not practicable.

      • To amend your point, I have one phrase: "Single point of failure"
      • You do realise that it is possible to open new browser windows as well. Complaining that an app is lost in tabs would have to be one of the strangest justifications for a native app I have ever heard!

  • Embrace and extinguish. Brings back memories of RAV antivirus.

    • by phorm ( 591458 )

      For those that don't remember [computerweekly.com]

      • by DingerX ( 847589 )
        Sure, only in this case, they've been extinct a long time. It used to be, I used Skype's landline call feature to talk to the 'rents. I even used that (voice only, mind) to talk to them on my Nokia n800, swearing up and down that 4-7 inch ARM-equipped tablets were the future. Now, my parents call me on Skype. I've spent maybe two bucks of the last I gave Skype, three years ago. The only thing stopping me from giving up entirely is my parents, and even my Mom prefers Whatsapp
  • It will be back when Microsoft releases their Linux distribution.
    • It will be back when Microsoft releases their Linux distribution.

      Microsoft are never going to release a Linux distribution.

      No. Instead, the next version of Windows will be based on Ubuntu.

    • They already did. Ubuntu on Windows!

  • Works for Me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The thing with software is that it doesn't degrade over time. Just because you don't have the 'new shiny', doesn't mean the older versions stop working. My copy of Skype v4.3.0.37 is running perfectly fine for me (on RHEL v6.7 64-bit).

    • Re:Works for Me (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sbaker ( 47485 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @04:43PM (#51818131) Homepage

      I understand what you're saying - but it's really not true for network-based stuff like Skype. If the underlying server protocols change - then your "old and dusty" software eventually won't work anymore. Also, if security loopholes are discovered and exploits made, and your software didn't change - then it did "degrade" because now it's not as secure as it once was.

      • Then there's dependencies -- if it depends on an ancient version of a library, your distribution may no longer have that version and it becomes a huge headache to keep the program working. Then there's changes to the desktop environment which can make it harder to use the application. For example a couple years ago there was something (I forget what application) which suddenly wouldn't show up in the system tray anymore because it hadn't been updated and was using an older method which KDE depreciated and e

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        It doesn't become any less secure, you just become aware of the security holes that were already there

  • ...and not only because their Linux client is both outdated and shit. There's are just so many better alternatives out there.

    Say what you want about Google, but Hangouts is fantastic - specially how it can integrate meetings, calendars and documents in a single call.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      My Windows using compadres had already abandoned Skype because of the crap that Microsoft was doing to the Windows version. They've already been trash talking Skype for quite a while now...

  • by thisisauniqueid ( 825395 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @04:30PM (#51817999)
    They're probably just busy rewriting Skype to work with WebRTC. (Or if they're smart, that's where they're expending their resources.)
  • by KlomDark ( 6370 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @04:36PM (#51818067) Homepage Journal

    What are these retards thinking, shouldn't that be #ThanksSatya - Bill ain't been in the drivers seat for a long time, Satya is the replacement for Bill's replacement.

    That was a pretty stupid way to approach the problem, regardless of how frustrating Microsoft might be acting on this issue.

  • by evolutionary ( 933064 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @04:53PM (#51818257)
    https://jitsi.org/ [jitsi.org] It looks quite good. this may be a blessing. Microsoft recently put word out about "bots" guiding you on things like vacations, products and so forth. in other words, Microsoft, is using Skype to anayze your communications and push ads. Not that I'm surprised. MS has historically been friendly to Linux and only recently even remotely tried to show some level of cooperation. MS SQL Server for Linux was an interesting step, but of course they can pull the pug at any time, which given this news (okay, not news...I've been wondering about this for awhile). Of course Android is killing MS on tablets and phones. Anyway, we've been patient enough. Time to try something different. Plus, did we really want Microsoft's spyware (ahem, "enhanced features") running on our Linux workstations? This could be a blessing in disguise telling us to give up hopes on MS and embrace the superior software projects in our grasp and encourage our friends/family to do the same.
    • I've been desperately wanting Jitsi to be excellent. I've tried to convince my Apple-loving family to move to it, since I'm running Linux. However, it's totally buggy for me. Constant visual and audio interference and noise, before the descent into full-blown ear-piercing feedback, that just doesn't stop. It's been like this for a few years now. I occasionally convince them to try again when an update is pushed, but it's yet to be resolved. Unfortunately, Skype is still the best option for us.
    • by Fruit ( 31966 )
      Tried that, but the wholy thing feels ‘clunky’ and often fails in various ways. Nowadays I just use Firefox Hello, which has the added advantage that all that is needed on the other side is a web browser (any web browser that understands webrtc).
  • I know people who work for the United Nations. They all use skype constantly. Even those in IT who really should know better. I'm sure the 3-letter folks love the easy access. Lock down and firewall windows telemetry? Sure, go ahead. We have this little icon in your system tray....

  • Easy ditch skype (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sheik Yerbouti ( 96423 ) on Thursday March 31, 2016 @05:35PM (#51818619) Homepage

    Just ditch Skype fuck em if they can't take a joke. Hangouts seems to be a decent replacement and does not require a client at all.

  • This started with with Skype long before they were acquired by MS. The Linux version has always been at least a full version back.

    I personally prefer Hangouts. It runs on all platforms and seems pretty close on all.

    • My friends and I actually started using hangouts once I switched to Linux about a month ago, Skype works, but is far too problematic and doesn't support group video chat, at least in my case.

      I love the fact that you can limit the bitrate on incoming and outgoing video feeds as well.

  • It's our fault to not having found the time and energy to converge to some other free alternatives (and there are). With people keeping using what's more convenient at the moment, other programs do not reach the critical mass needed to become useful.
  • I am glad they are not updating it; look at what's going on with Skype on Windows - it gets bloated, it has advertisements, it tries to convince you to switch to a Microsoft account, etc.

    The Linux version does not have any of these "features" and I prefer it that way. Hopefully, they won't change the protocol to force everyone to get an update.

  • Skype for Windows has been screwed up seriously last couple of years. Skype for Linux is still buggy, granted, but it's not full of ads.
    If it works... it's good enough.

  • Google Hangouts is technically superior.

    Here's the proof (or opinion)
    http://www.cloudpro.co.uk/saas... [cloudpro.co.uk]
  • There shouldn't be a Skype "client" at all. Microsoft should be focusing all its energy on making Skype (and also "Skype for Business," formerly known as Lync) work inside a browser using WebRTC. We have the browser technology now. Standalone apps are so 20th century.

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