Happy 10th birthday Skype. You changed everything; too bad you didn't change Microsoft

30 thoughts on “Happy 10th birthday Skype. You changed everything; too bad you didn't change Microsoft”

  1. OM – nice write up. I too was amazed with Skype when I first stumbled across it. As a telecom guy, I was really intrigued with their P2P design. It was everything that we wanted SIP to be at the time, but Skype enjoyed a proprietary network design (like Apple today) and didn’t have to worry about standards or Service Provider luddites, so their roll-out went much more viral. I remember meeting with NZ at their office in London to try to convince them to work with us on a Service Provider gateway solution so that Skype could connect digitally with the Service Provider networks, but the look on NZ’s face told me that he wasn’t interested in getting into bed with the Carriers. He was right. it would have killed them.

    Interestingly, when we arrived back in the US after our meeting in London, it was only a couple of days before men in dark suits and sunglasses showed up to ask questions about our meeting with NZ. I think they viewed Skype as a threat.

    The modern version of Skype – the Tony Bates Cisco-style ‘Microsoft’ version – lost touch with the end-user. As with all things Microsoft, I think there is too much focus on business needs, and that is not Skype’s market. Skype is a wonderful consumer SOHO solution, but it does not compete well with Citrix enterprise solutions. Sorry.

    1. The consumer is the least loyal customer. Enterprise and business are loyal customers. Microsoft is still very much in touch with its user base on the enterprise. They are the same users, it’s only a matter of time before they fine tune the ecosystem to support both play and work. The strategy and vision is to do that. Now it comes down to execution.

    2. Contrary to @Mcbeese, I wasn’t terribly impressed when Skype came out. As far as I was concerned, existing IM and/or VOIP software had the market covered.

      But over time, I watched Skype grow into *the* chat/voice/video app of choice, and was won over — especially as most competing apps either stagnated or died altogether.

      Sad that the company seems to be losing its way now, especially buried deep in Redmond’s labyrinth.

  2. Om I am a bit disappointed in your harsh assessment of Skype’s future.

    I think one area where Skype had not made much headway has been Enterprise. Integrating Lync with Skype is a natural outcome in my opinion.

    Microsoft’s corporate customers (their bread and butter) are adopting Lync and Office365. They’re not interested in Skype. The ones who are going to sign up for a competing offering from Google, are you going to need Skype to communicate with these entities. This is a tactical play to keep Microsoft’s foot in the door even at customers who opted to go with the competition. There is always a cycle in IT. If you don’t get them on the CapEx side then maybe the Opex side might be a good place to look.

    More over, Skype on XBOX is another area where Microsoft can compete with teleconferencing Giants like Cisco. Lync is not destined for the XBOX. Nor it should.

    SkypePhone sounds like a good idea on a blog, but seriously, you know and everyone knows, no carrier would have agreed to even give the device a chance! I am almost shocked that you would propose such garbage.

    Is the Skype brand powerful,? Yes!Is Microsoft integrating them into their core apps? Yes. Were they an offensive chip? No. Skype is Microsoft’s Trojan horse onto competing devices. Androids, iPhones, iPads, Macbooks. I think it’s serving its purpose quite well.

    1. Alik. RIP Skype, its dead controled by MS. It was nice to use it in my android phone a lot of yeas. After last MS update it is unusable. Nice for eyes but not for communication. “Good job microsoft” 😉 almost all people put minimum star review, only 1*.

  3. Skype is not “totally free”. Mumble, SIP (which predates Skype by almost a decade) and webrtc are all free and open VOIP communication platforms.

    Skype is a closed platform owned and controlled by MS that is currently free to use, if known to be at the mercy of the whims of the NSA, GCHQ and their pals.

    I encourage everyone to at least give Mumble a shot. I find it much more reliable and bandwidth/CPU/RAM efficient than Skype.

    1. I think there are too many companies where innovation is dead either because of status quo or by sales-thinking CEOs. Many more CEOs should follow Balmer and give the industry and their companies a makeover. Cisco, Intel, HP …to name a few

  4. I predict that this will be selected for promotion in Boot Up by the editors if @GuardianTech. Charles Arthur and his Apple fan colleagues rarely miss the most outrageous examples of anti-Microsoft propaganda, and the article above is a classic.

    At the very least, The Guardian will cover the story in some way, but I doubt even they could attain the level of rhetoric and spin I found above.

  5. At times, Om, I wonder if the free thingy kills in-house motivation to work on the product?

    MS has had two great (acquired) products, both, hotmail and skype got killed by google.

    Great piece, thank you Sir,

  6. “Ironically, I didn’t even remember its 10th birthday. I forgot, mostly because ever since it was acquired by Microsoft…”

    It’s unlikely you would keeping track of the anniversaries of any company the way you might a friend. The fact that you didn’t remember has nothing whatsoever to do with Microsoft buying it. This is pure rhetoric and it’s utterly meaningless.

    How did you write this article, if you didn’t remember? Perhaps somebody told you. Or perhaps you saw one of the many other articles written about it before this one and jumped on the bandwagon to try and be topical. The sensationalist anti-Microsoft headline will guarantee page impressions and attention for your website through the vocal network of loyal embedded Apple promoters out there.

    Skype is thriving under Microsoft.

    “It is like a rock star who has lost his edge.”

    This is pure rhetoric, consistent with a corporate propaganda model like that of Google. This may be no coincidence.

    What exactly has changed for the worse at Skype? Please be specific. Enough hollow rhetoric.

  7. The problem with MSFT is that the only people they’re willing to piss off is their own users. It was a given the disruption would cease once they had their hands on Skype.

    Contrast to the Google stewardship of YouTube, who continues to piss off pretty much everybody except its users.

  8. This is my personal opinion:

    When Skype was started it was I dream come true, you can talk with your love one, friends and business Colleagues for free.

    I was already in the VOIP business back then and I was Immediately understanding the revolution; free voip software was on the market already for years but no software could bypass the NAT problem, but Skype did it with the P2P with 100% success. Now when you have this tiny Piece of software that just work no matter what, naturally you will ask your people to install it (aka viral marketing). After Skype got a good solid user base the voice quality become perfect and from here it became crazy viral and for very good reason. By the way, even today if you try implement WebRTC and you want to bypass the NAT problems that can occur, you need to run cloud server to do the magic for you. well done for Skype that solve this issue 10 years ago.

    Skype success is really thanks to it ability to bypass the NAT problem, the Skype management was just there, they didn’t need to do nothing and you could see how this software become bigger and bigger every month. The good thing that they did that they make it run on all the platforms, but this is not Special decision, it is obvious that company need to write the software to as many OS they can if they want to control the market, But the problem of the managements of all this years in my opinion was taking a simple to use software and make it look and feel so heavy, loaded with uncomfortable GUI interface if you compare it to the first version.

    Let’s talk about facts from my usage and all of my friends usage, my Skype is so quite this days, only my mom that I was teaching her 10 years ago how to call me still calls&chat with me, all the people I know are chatting with facebook or whatsup, Skype is not exist anymore, even my mom will know soon how to use the simple whatsup software. For voice, I was cancel my subscription few month ago and when I am abroad I can still use the Skype voice or video for free but I am definitely looking for whatsup or other to make simple voice/video so I will not need to run Skype on my mobile together with other apps. If whatsup/LINE/Viber will add voice and video, Skype will be in a big(er) trouble.

    One more thing, Skype community: Skype had a very good and “fanatic” developer & bloggers community that where doing apps and blogs but over the years the bloggers didn’t want to continue write about the software they love, I can see many bloggers hate Skype (not because of Microsoft for sure) and developer will never work with Skype again after Skype just kick them out by closing the Skype desktop API with short laconic notices, I am sure that the APP’S that using Skype API not make the money for Skype as they expected but by closing this section you lost the developers that will never believe in Skype and Microsoft (at the end of the day Microsoft is suffering too, they are the boss, who could trust them now?).

    What I think Skype can do? Actually they could do a lot:
    First copy Whatsup and do it quick.
    Offer built-in remote control software like teamviewer.
    When you first install the software make it simple and basic, only contact and history, all other could be add if you mark something in the menu.

    Good luck Skype I still love the software, I hope Microsoft will find the team to make Skype to be beloved software again (but I am skeptical).

  9. Yup, it is too bad that Skype risks losing its marketshare, as it’s being attacked by every flavor of Over the Top Messaging, from the WhatsApp, Tango, Viber, etc… But still, Skype has the best voice quality in my experience, with only Google Hangout as a close contender.

    It’s also being attacked by the multitude of screen sharing apps when they had the makings of one if they improved it a bit more.

    Skype is like Craigslist. Despite being slashed and bitten by competitors, it keeps humming and performing.

  10. Nice piece.

    Skype was dying before Microsoft bought it. Confusing UI, terrible integration of small business features, sleazy techniques that forced ad/malware and intrusive features (click to call integration) with each update.

    But Microsoft drove the stake in when they (probably) acceded to the Feds’ demands to change Skype’s architecture as a condition for purchasing Skype. Gone was the peer-to-peer architecture that made Skype such a threat to the telecoms industry, and in its place was a server infrastructure that raised Skype’s operating costs while making it easier to snoop on Skype calls.

    The architecture change will eventually be a big story, since to change the underlying cost structure of an $8 billion purchase you need approval from the purchasing CEO (and maybe the board). And so arguments about a sysop cooperating with NSA while keeping senior management in the dark – these go away.

    Stay tuned.

  11. Changed everything?
    The majority of people haven’t used Skype.
    The majority of people have used yahoo chat, aim (in the 90s), and gchat a lot more than Skype.
    Skype wasn’t the first internet audio or video chat. It wasn’t the first internet to phone chat. Yahoo Messenger had phone calling (and for free for a while) in 1998.
    Skype just simply became the most popular of the services — but it did nothing revolutionary.

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