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Why doesn't Microsoft just give up on Skype for Linux?

Microsoft released a beta client of Skype for Linux last week but even basic problems with the alpha client — which was around much longer than an alpha client should be — still appear to be dogging the software.

Every time a new release takes place, I give it a twirl to see what, if anything, has changed.

The alpha version was released in July last year. I did not expect anything much, seeing as it was alpha software. I even castigated the Linux users who started criticising Microsoft for a lack of features.

But with a beta, at least some of the more obvious bugs that were present in the alpha version should have been fixed. Alas, that is not the case.

I still have to input my username and password every now and then; there is no guarantee that the software will store these credentials. If this is not basic, what is?

"We want to create a Linux version of Skype that is as feature rich as the existing Skype on desktop and mobile platforms," the release text said, in part. Well, at the moment the desktop clients that I can see on Windows and the Mac seem to be oozing with options that I cannot find on Linux.

One-to-one video calling has been added from Linux to Android, iOS, Windows and the Mac, but only if the man/woman at the other end has the latest version of Skype themselves.

Why doesn't Microsoft simply stop wasting developer resources on this Linux client and simply improve the Web version of Skype so that it offers all the features that the Windows and Mac versions do? Ultimately, as the company itself concedes, all this peer-to-peer stuff will have to be junked for a cloud architecture.

That, however, maybe too much to hope for. I see from a glance that the Web version does not even allow me to make a Skype call.

However, I can make a telephone call from Skype on the Web after making payment. Yes, I know that Microsoft is interested in taking every stray dollar from my pocket, but how about adding in the features that Windows and Mac user enjoy first?

Microsoft fanboys and journalists on the make keep lauding the company for its "new approach" and its openness to other technologies that it once savagely fought against. Where are these individuals when the actuality is revealed to be something quite different?


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.