MICROSOFT HAS announced the sunsetting of some versions of its mobile communications app, Skype, in preparation for the relaunch of the service as Skype for Business and Skype for Retinal Burns.
The move will see Linux support withdrawn for all versions before 4.3, with users already being warned to update. The new version is essentially Skype for Web in a window and lacks some of the older native features such as screen sharing. But as Linux users have been feeling left behind for years by Skype, it's some comfort that there's an up to date version at all.
On 1 July, along with the Linux version, support for TV Skype clients will be gone and with it, support for Windows Phone 8 and 8.1, Windows RT and the messaging app for Windows 10 Mobile.
The news merely sets a timeline for a decision that has been in the pipeline for some time as the company moves from Peer-to-Peer (P2P) to cloud-based infrastructure.
The Messaging app on Windows 10 and Windows 8 escapes the chop, but with the latest version of Skype as a Universal Windows (UWP) app baked into Windows 10, it's a matter of time.
Microsoft has slowly morphed Skype since it bought it. Pre-MS clients no longer work, with a large library of plug-ins developed by third parties ditched as the company pushed for parity between different versions of the app.
Perhaps the most notable failure here is Skype for TV, originally slated for the chop last June. Originally, it was an idea which on paper sounds great and led to a wave of Smart TVs with built-in webcams in the hope of uniting families straight from the sofa.
In reality, however, the number of affected active users is likely to be minimal. Alternative apps such as TellyBean, which uses your TV as a screen but your phone as a camera aim to fill the void, but it does seem there is a limited appetite for video calling on televisions.
Microsoft is emailing anyone who may be affected by the changes telling them what their options are. Of course, the Windows 10 sales pitch is likely to feature strongly as it migrates people away from older versions of Skype. And that's fine, so long as it's not enforced on people. µ
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