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Six years on, Microsoft still makes an awful Skype client for Linux

Six years after it acquired the popular communications software Skype, Microsoft appears to be unable to produce a version that works properly on Linux.

The latest version of Skype for Linux cannot store passwords so one has to manually type in credentials every time one uses the software.

The alpha version of this client was released last July. A beta emerged in March this year.

While the older version has a small interface and did not hog a 15" screen, the new version is overpowering and flops over every other application in sight.

This is typical of the design that is practised at Microsoft, where marketing ("lookit me") is more important than technology.

The older version of Skype for Linux was supposed to be unusable on Linux after May. But this isn't strictly true.

I use the same version of Debian GNU/Linux on both my workstation and my laptop, the AMD64 port. Yet on my laptop, the older version of Skype will not run and I am forced to use the big, ugly new version.

On my workstation, the old version runs without any issue.

Windows and Mac users have many features on Skype which are still denied to Linux users.

One good solution for Microsoft to avoid this kind of mess is to open-source Skype and allow others to fork it. I am sure that it is useful enough that some developers will pick it up and start to make it useful again.

Or, if the company is loath to do that, then it could junk the Linux client and improve the Web version, putting it on par with the versions for Windows and the Mac. Ultimately, all this peer-to-peer stuff will be thrown overboard in favour of a cloud solution, so why not head down that path?

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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.

 

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