HORRENDOUSLY UNRELIABLE Microsoft messaging service Skype is getting an upgrade, and though there's a lot to love, there's more to hate.
The previously useful app is letting go of the version known as 'Skype Classic' to almost no one but which worked okay on the whole, in place of a new 'version 8.0'.
In another classic, 'do as we say' move, Microsoft posted: "We are encouraging everyone to upgrade now to avoid any inconvenience as only Skype version 8.0 will work after September 1, 2018.
"As we roll out improvements, there comes a time when we must shut down older services and application versions. This is done to ensure that all customers have the best possible Skype experience and that there are no quality or reliability issues resulting from old technology and new technology interoperating.
"We know change can be hard, so we're working to make the update as simple as possible. For help with the upgrade, please visit our support site. We appreciate the support of the Skype community as we upgrade the experience and listen to feedback along the way."
This was a similar excuse to the one it used when it tore down everything from pre-Microsoft Skype. And to be fair, things did get better for a long time. Then they got worse again. Then worse still. Then there was the redesign that looks a bit like a clowning accident in a soup canning factory during Pride.
But there are promises of new features too, rolling out in the coming months, so it's definitely not all bad.
First up there's free screen sharing. That's going to be brilliant if you're that person that everyone asks for technical help despite the fact you can't see their screen.
'More productive messaging' is a meaningless buzz phrase and ultimately doesn't tell us an awful lot other than the marketing department got involved before the announcement went out. Essentially, they're adding 'at' symbols (@). That's it. Just 'at' symbols. You'll recognise them from everywhere else that already had them.
'Chat Media Gallery' allows you to find all the photos, videos and such like that have been shared in the active chat. Click one button and search for them - no need to trawl through your chat history that hasn't synced properly.
Finally, sharing is expanded to all kinds of files up to 300MB - just drag and drop. Like you mostly already can.
But that's not all! There's more to come in Version 8.0 - not just support for vowels, including ‘y'.
First, all these features will be coming to iPads. Then Microsoft will add in-call recording. No, hell hasn't frozen over, cloud-based call recording is coming to Skype after 15 years.
Read receipts have been rumoured for a while, mainly because every other app has got them. You'll be able to tell the difference between someone who is AFK and someone who isn't in the mood for your crap.
If you want to have it out with them about it, hop out of the group and into a private chat, because you can do that now. It uses end-to-end encryption. Not only that, it uses end-to-end Signal encryption. If you can't beat them, eh?
There are also new ways to add contacts - you can send joining instructions to people not on Skype, and an 'Invite More People' tab will allow you to bolster groups.
Watch out WhatsApp and Slack. Skype is very, very slowly coming for you at some point.
(Of course, it could be that Version 8.0 has a myriad of fixes, but it's going to have to be bloody huge myriad to bring Skype back into good graces round these parts.)
Basically, Skype sucks. μ
Hashes to hashes
Team Green cranks the Super GPU machine
Also, the moon on a stick