Why is Skype forcing us all to update software?

Original author: Dan York
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Opening a laptop today [ original article dated 08.08.2014 - approx. perev. ] and starting Skype, I noticed that the session under my account was interrupted. The following message appeared on the screen: "You were disconnected from the network because you are using an outdated version of Skype."

Honestly, the version of Skype installed on my laptop was not so old: Yes, she has been over a year old (dated March 2013), but Skype has always been famous for “just working”.

And we users are used to it.

Community outrage

Several people I chat with in Skype’s public chat have also encountered a similar problem. Over the past week, Skype community forums for Windows and Mac have seen a marked increase in user complaints. Even the Linux community has not spared the problem (the company rarely pays attention to it), in which on August 1 the moderator published the following message :

Starting today, users who have Skype for Linux version 4.2 and below installed will no longer be able to use Skype. When you try to log in with your account, an error message will appear: "Could not connect to the Skype server" or "Failed to log in with your Skype account." If you want to continue using this software, please update it to the latest version.

Judging by the answers of users, the "new" version of Skype does not work on various Linux configurations. The 99th answer in the discussion topic conveys all the negative as well as possible:

You are diligently trying to assure us that the forced transition from version 4.2 to 4.3 will positively affect the experience with Skype, and also make our life easier. So, if you really read all the comments on this topic, then I hope you realized that Skype did not get any better . Version 4.3 breaks compatibility with audio equipment. The Pulseaudio sound server does not work with my external USB sound card. Other applications designed to work with sound just stop working if you start it. If you want to really improve Skype, return ALSA support. Or lay out the source code so that we can do it ourselves. Or stop blocking version 4.2 so that we can use the version of Skype that reallymakes our life easier. What you did with Skype is blasphemy.

A similar opinion can be found in a fairly long thread on the Mac community. Below is a quote from the 78th post of this thread:

Hello. I’ll go straight to the point. What you offer is not a solution at all . I tried to approach this issue in different "ways": from using version 2.8 to the usual Skype update to the latest version, as requested by the application. The attempt to log in using my account after the update failed: the session under my account was interrupted, and the application again suggested that I update it. I even tried uninstalling Skype and downloading it again, but that also didn't help. And no, I'm not going to upgrade the OS to Mavericks. I am quite comfortable on the current version. I like Skype, it is great for work (I use it every day) and just for communication, but the current state of affairs is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. Please solve this problem . Thanks.

It seems that one of the most significant problems encountered by users of older versions of the OS is the inoperability of the new version of Skype on these OSs. The following is an example :

I am ready to refuse Skype. Even Apple has no right to decide for me how to configure my computer, and even less so Microsoft (who bought Skype in 2011). I’m not going to switch to Mavericks. There is simply no need for this. In addition, I still use applications that require a Rosetta translator [approx. translator: used to run applications for the PowerPC architecture], and it has become unavailable for the OS since version 10.6.8.

Goodbye Skype. I will continue to use it on the iPhone, but not on the desktop computer. If something happens with the iPhone version, then Skype will simply lose its client. And the point.

There are VERY many such examples. And even more in the Windows community . In general, this “forced transition to a new version” does not bode well for a large number of users.

Skype Position

Judging by what I see, Skype representatives are asking users to pay attention to the help article on the update process. It says the following:

We want everyone to enjoy the best of what Skype can offer: from improving quality, with the goal of increasing stability, to innovations in the field of security. This is what the new version of Skype offers. In order for all users to experience these benefits, from time to time, we will decommission old versions of Skype. This applies to all platforms, including mobile. There is nothing complicated about updating Skype. By installing the update, you will get access to all the new features that our team worked so hard on.

If after decommissioning old versions you do not update Skype, then your account will be automatically logged out. In this case, you can no longer use Skype until you update it. Just follow the few steps described below to download, install and launch the new version, after which you can immediately continue working with Skype.

The company’s blog on July 16, 2014 posted an entry with the following headline: “To improve your user experience, update Skype now.” In this post, company representatives described all the advantages of switching to a new version and briefly mentioned the planned decommissioning of old versions:

Therefore, in order for all users to be able to feel the recent improvements, in the near future we will decommission old versions of Skype on all platforms, including mobile ones.

As it turned out, by “near future” was meant the end of July, that is, about 2 weeks from the date of publication of the post.

But why, Skype?

The question is ... why now? There is no exact answer to this question.

I agree with the statement that Skype has always worked without any problems, and this was one of its strengths. You could log in using your account using any version. This fact has helped Skype become an incredibly common means of communication.

However, the presence of so many old versions did not allow Microsoft / Skype to give access to new services (or show their ads) to all users.

For the same reason, they cannot switch to a new architecture that would improve the quality of service. An example is their transition from an initial peer-to-peer architecture to a centralized cloud architecture to improve the quality of support for mobile clients.

I understand all this.

I can understand why Microsoft wants (even why they need it ) for everyone to use the new versions.

But why now? Why at the end of July 2014? Was this date chosen by chance? Or was this done consciously?

What changes have been made to the new version? Was this done for the sake of abandoning the P2P architecture, or was it dictated by other technical changes?

What made the company decide that now is the right time to take such a step?

There is something crazy about timing for such an update, as Skype is not the only solution in its field. There are dozens of competitors on the market. For example, I recently began to use Facetime from Apple and Google+ Hangouts more. As I recently wrote , Facebook wants to turn its Messenger into a tool for voice and text communication. There are also many other mobile applications trying to become the “next Skype”. In addition ... do not forget about the whole world of WebRTC , as well as millions of new applications and websites that provide new channels for communication.

Maybe in thisthe whole thing. Probably, Microsoft understands that in order to maintain rivalry with these new services, as well as for the further development of Skype, they just need to force users to update. Perhaps they hope that any inconvenience to users is only temporary. That after migration to the new version they will be able to develop faster.

Is this so - I do not know. Skype says nothing about the purpose of the update, except for general meaningless words.

Will users want to change Skype to other services?

More precisely, the question is whether users really want to change Skype to other services ?

Judging by the discontent on the community forums, it seems that Microsoft underestimated the possible technical problems that users will encounter after the update. I saw a fairly large number of complaints from people who can’t upgrade due to the OS version, or for various other reasons.

Strictly speaking, Skype has died for them.

They are forced to seek a replacement, because just can't use skype.

However, calculating the percentage of users who encountered problems after the upgrade is not so simple. This percentage can be very small. Perhaps the vast majority of users automatically upgraded to the new version without any problems.

I looked at Skype user statistics from Hudson Burton, but unfortunately his statistics collection system stopped working after July 31st. At the moment, he restarted it ... but the data for the last week is no longer available. And they could show how what happened changed (if at all changed) the picture. Judging by the data available to him, at the time of this writing, 77 million users were online. Similar numbers were before.

It is also unclear exactly when Microsoft / Skype launched the forced update of old versions. Based on user comments in the communities, the main stream of complaints began on July 30 or 31. In my case, an update notification came on August 6th. I also heard from other users that they did not receive a push update notification and are still using older versions.

A similar situation has already been observed in the past. In December 2010 there were problemsSkype work, because of which almost everyone could not enter the network for several days. Many of us would think that this would give an impetus to try another service ... but this did not happen. Once the problems were resolved, the users simply returned to Skype. It was easier. In addition, Skype already had a user base. I mean, when many of your friends use Skype, there is nothing easier than contacting them through this channel.

However, this time everything is a little different. Skype replacement solutions have become much more than 4 years ago. Apple, Google and Facebook offer quite interesting solutions and already have their users. Perhaps the number of users of these services is not the same as that of Skype, but it is quite impressive.

Only registered users can participate in the survey. Please come in.

So what will you do?

  • 21.5% I will switch to another similar service (for example, iMessage, Google+ Hangouts, etc.) 973
  • 9.9% I trust the young start-up counterparts, like Tox.im 446
  • 53.6% I will continue to use Skype (provided, of course, that I can upgrade to the latest version) 2416
  • 14.8% I do not face the problem of choice, communicating using pigeon mail 670

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