OVER RECENT years, I've garnered a reputation for being something of a Microsoft curmudgeon.
As I've always said, it's not a problem with Microsoft products, it's just their entire corporate culture and contempt for users that makes my skin crawl.
And I'm probably not about to do anything to change that "troublemaker" sticker stuck on my file at Microsoft.
Because let's face it. Skype is shit.
I mean, really, utter garbage. A vacuum filled with pants. A total carsick car crash.
It wasn't always so. Before Microsoft got its grubby mitts on it, it was a great bit of kit. Simple, innovative, with a lively community of third-party plug-ins and that oh-so-rare quality, an app that makes a massive difference to people's lives - making international communication affordable.
When Skype was swallowed by Microsoft, the plan was always that it would become a seamless part of the Windows/Office experience.
To that end, it knew that to make the experience work across platforms, it would have to ditch third-party apps.
Let's put that in marketing speak. To improve Skype, it removed functionality. It beggars belief.
OK, so you can sort of see the short-term pain for long-term gain there.
But as it has started to migrate people on to its universal platform it has become clear that the company is still struggling with a clunky old platform that it has precariously built over the top of. And it doesn't work.
Take Linux, for example, which has been under-resourced for a long time. A petition was even mounted by users to get them to sort it the frick out.
In theory, the good news came recently when Canonical made one of its first "Snaps" - virtualised apps in Linux - the most up to date UWP version of Skype.
There's just one problem with that.
The UWP version just does not work.
I don't mean the design, though my feelings towards the decision to turn it from a smart looking communications tool into the results of an Ipecac drinking competition at a Tumble Tots class at the Maynard Basset factory are well known.
I certainly won't be going into how its attempts to make it into Snapchat have left me needing to wear a promethazine patch just to look at it here.
No, it's the functionality - and most importantly, the cross-platform functionality.
The whole point of "new Skype" was to try and create a joined-up communications service.
But certainly on Android, push notifications just don't work, and switching between Android and Windows - and indeed between Windows machines, isn't seamless - it either takes 10-15 minutes to catch up, or it doesn't catch up at all.
Here's the thing. Skype is now two products - Skype and Skype for Business. And Skype as we know it is not meant as a business tool anymore because the company wants you to spend money on it.
Which is fine and dandy and capitalist and so forth, but the company has left the consumer with a product that is no longer fit for purpose, and given its long history of innovation, that's really sad.
Things reached a head last week when a major vulnerability was found in Skype. Microsoft is reported to have said that they would not be fixing it but rather would wait for it to become obsolete.
The logic is, the old desktop version will eventually be replaced by the new UWP version in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, so the huge amount of work that will be required to fix the vulnerability is seen as "not worth it".
Given that nearly 50 per cent of Windows users are using Windows 7, and that figure is dwindling at a tiny rate, a lot of people are going to have to keep using the version with vulnerabilities.
Personally, I could live with that, I really could. But Microsoft has taken away the choice. Since the vulnerability was found, Microsoft has taken away the ability to download the old Windows client for Windows 8.1 and 10 users.
So we're stuck with the broken carsick version.
So, I call you out, Microsoft. I don't think it's "too complicated" - it can be done. I think it's your company that leapt on this as another 'incentive' for people to be dragged kicking and screaming on to Windows 10. Am I right, Microsoft?
That'd be fine, it really would. Except to do that, you need a product that works. And Skype just doesn't work, so all you're doing is alienating your precious Windows 10 users, not to mention the Android users you so desperately want to capture because Windows Mobile turned into a complete car crash.
In your position, whichever way you look at it, I'd say that's a pretty contemptuous piss-poor thing to do. Wouldn't you? µ
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