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Skype stops working on older Android phones leaving Linux users in the dark

INQ reader can't update but even if he could, he actually couldn't
Fri Aug 15 2014, 14:33

LINUX USERS will be left out in the cold following Microsoft's announcement that it will retire older versions of Skype for Android.

Canadian INQUIRER reader Robert Bernecky contacted The INQUIRER following a bewildering conversation with a live chat advisor from Samsung.

Mr Bernecky, like millions of other Skype users, had received an email warning him that Skype for Android would cease to function on Android 2.2 Froyo and below. Mr Bernecky's Samsung Galaxy uses Android 2.2 Froyo, so he contacted Samsung customer support for advice.

At this point, enter Samson, the star of our show and customer advisor for Samsung Canada, whose plucky "never stray from the script" attitude is a credit to customer support staff everywhere.

The chat proceeded as follows:

RB: I can't find Kies on the page. I run Linux, and there does not appear to be a linux version of same. How do you suggest I proceed with the firmware upgrade? [Currently running firmware version 2.2]

Samson: I understand that you are experiencing Skype issue on your device. And also in installing the Kies software.

RB: Yes, but that is a minor issue which I will resolve with Skype. The main question is: How do I upgrade firmware on the phone from Linux (or thru the phone)?

Samson: Whenever, there is a upgrade from Samsung you will get a notification.

At this point we start to realise that perhaps Samson doesn't really know what Linux is, and is focused on finding out the latest version of Android available for the device.

Samson: I will look for the latest Android version available for the device.


Samson: Please provide me with the Baseband version of the device (Apps >> Settings >> About device).

RB: I9000UGKC1

Samson: As per the details, I see that there is no update available for the device. The update depends on the baseband version of the device. There is no update available for the baseband version provided by you.

RB: If so, then how do I run Skype in the future?

Samson: You can use the Skype feature after updating the device. If there is any update available in future, then you may able to use the Skype app.

And so thus far we've established that Mr Bernecky's Galaxy S, despite having a version of 2.3.3 written, cannot get an update. This is quite common with Samsung devices, we've seen it before, where a carrier decides that they just won't bother updating the device, even though they've been provided with the means.

RB: What is the Samsung schedule for providing said update? Note that I can not use skype at all until it is available to me, so the phone is, essentially, useless until that time.

Samson: Kies software is only available for Windows and Mac platforms.

Samson appears to have disappeared into the famous Two Ronnies sketch where Ronnie Corbett appears on Mastermind with his specialist subject being "Answering The Question Before Last".

RB: I have neither of those systems (Mac, WIndows) available.What alternatives are available for Linux users?

Samson: I am afraid to say that, we do not have information on how to transfer files through Linux Operating system.

RB: OK. I'll have to take matters up with the carrier, and perhaps consider an iPhone or other non-Samsung phone in the future, if Samsung will not provide product support for Linux.

Samson: I will forward your concern to the appropriate department and hope it will be available in future.

RB: Thank you. My email address for that is [omitted]. Telephone [omitted].

Samson: I am sorry, we at live chat do not have access to send information to the email address and phone.

RB: I think we are done, then.

So there we have it. Mr Bernecky can't use Skype because his carrier hasn't pushed the necessary version of Android to his device in spite of the fact that one has been produced, and even if they had, he still wouldn't be able to update because Samsung doesn't support Linux.

It's fairly exhausting trying to work out who the biggest berks are in this situation. Is it Samsung for failing to provide a Linux solution? Is it Mr Bernecky's carrier for failing to provide up to date software that is actually available to them? Is it Microsoft for decommissioning Skype for older versions of Android?

For our money, it's Samson, for not actually listening to the customer's problem and instead reeling off a list of stock phrases from his list.

The INQUIRER has given Mr Bernecky some tips on how to install custom firmware to his device so that he can continue to enjoy Skype, but we thought the transcript of the call was so jaw-dropping in its ineptitude that you would enjoy reading it too. Our thanks to him for letting us use it. µ


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