Microsoft Reminds the World That Skype Exists

Posted on April 6, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Skype with 40 Comments

With usage of the insecure Zoom platform skyrocketing, Microsoft is offering up Skype as a safer and just as free alternative.

And to be clear, no, Microsoft hasn’t added any new features to Skype so that it matches Zoom’s feature-set. It’s simply reminding people that Skype does exist and that it provides most of the same benefits as its less secure competitor.

“[Skype provides] easy video meetings with no sign-ups or downloads,” a new page on the Skype website explains. “Generate your free unique link with one click, share it with participants and enjoy unlimited meetings with Skype.”

Benefits include:

  • Your meeting link does not expire and can be used anytime.
  • Free conference calls
  • No sign ups
  • No downloads
  • Record your call and save it for later review
  • Blur your background before entering the call
  • Share your screen whenever necessary

Skype works on the web, on mobile, and on desktop. In fact, you can click a link on that page to start a free Skype meeting right now. Best of all, Skype isn’t riddled with security holes, as is Zoom, which suffers from yet another security issue almost every day, it seems.

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Comments (40)

40 responses to “Microsoft Reminds the World That Skype Exists”

  1. red.radar

    Skype is just hard to get setup. I tried to get my parents to use it to talk to my kids but was senselessly frustrated with simple things like

    1. audio devices: They could hear us but we couldn’t hear them. Trying to coach them on where to go to fix the mic source was maddening. No go to the settings in skype app.. now go to windows 10 audio settings. My son holding up a plastic toy hamburger to tell grandpa to go to the options menu was a family highlight. It ended in a dumpster fire of my wife calling the landline and we let the audio go through the cellular network and video resume like normal. It just irritated me to no end because the UI in the Skype UWP app is such a mess that We couldn’t get it setup right. Apparently the root cause was grandpa was confused by the flat design of the ui and there were no cues for him to scroll down. He just kept saying... I don’t see anything.
    2. Adding contacts and connecting with contacts the first time is complex. No I don’t want to give you access to my contact list. I want to manually add one person and keep my information under my control thank you very much.

    skype makes the basics frustrating. So much so I am really close to buying my parents an iPad just so we can use FaceTime.

    • thejoefin

      In reply to red.radar:

      This comment is absolutely the struggle Microsoft is up against. I bet Skype on a Surface would work great because:

      1. Audio devices: There should be one input and one output making the defaults functional and correct
      2. Contacts: Skype Meet Now requires no login or contacts, just a link

      But most people already have an idea of what Skype is in their head so they dismiss it.

      • Vladimir Carli

        In reply to TheJoeFin:

        actually skype works perfectly and easily on the ipad as well. The problem is windows and the clumsy audio settings

        • thejoefin

          In reply to Vladimir:

          Yeah absolutely. Computers are more complex than mobile devices. Skype cannot understand the billions of permutations of ways PCs can be configured.

          Also PC manufactures usually don't fix the audio device story. My Dell work laptop connected to a Dell dock has like 5 audio devices. Most of them have cryptic names "Realtek USB Audio" which is actually the combo-jack port on the hub... but that is not clear by the name.

      • wright_is

        In reply to TheJoeFin:

        Except you usually wear a headset, so if you have a BT headset or USB headset, you still need to change the source. But this is the same with any meeting software I've used, you have to make sure you select the right audio source.

        Really bad is when you have HDMI for video, internal speakers and a USB "speakerphone" unit and somebody who is flustered and only uses Skype once in a blue moon and his Windows "knowledge" is how to use Excel and Outlook.

        • thejoefin

          In reply to wright_is:

          Exactly! This isn't a problem when a phone or tablet because they are simpler and usually reduce the number of audio devices to one input and one output. Skype is a fine product but it grew up on PCs and never broke into mobile devices. So the perception is Skype == complexity; Facetime == simplicity.

      • red.radar

        In reply to TheJoeFin:

        Your last point is real. Because it was such a struggle... Skype’s reputation is tarnished. It is forever tagged as the “hard to use “ solution.

    • crfonseca

      In reply to red.radar:

      I've had much the same issues getting mics and headphones to work in Webex, Zoom, and Google Meet (or was that Hangouts? Hangouts Meet?), so I'm going to point the finger and Windows here.

  2. ozaz

    "Generate your free unique link with one click, share it with participants"

    Forgive my ignorance but isn't the ability to start/join a meeting with just a single link one the reasons Zoom is considered insecure? If so, how is this any better?

    • RobertJasiek

      In reply to ozaz:

      The German webpage "Von eingeschleusten Apps und laufenden Klagen - Warum Sie die Chat-App Zoom auch sonst nicht nutzen sollten" at Notebookcheck explains why Zoom is malware.

    • Paul Thurrott

      How does this make it insecure?
      • ozaz

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        My understanding is one of the accusations leveled at Zoom (wrt security) is a single click link to join a meeting means it can be easy for uninvited individuals to intercept links and hijack meetings. Is this not the case?

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        The reports about Zoom violating security are:

        • bugs creating very severe security gaps, such as allowing chat partners to sleal windows login data of others
        • disrespected privacy; Zoom actively collects very much data and has a related license agreement
        • unwanted installed third software, on Mac even a secret web server, which persists after Zoom deinstallation
        • on Mac, the installer behaves like a typical malware
        • browser activates camera without user consent; malicious websites are enabled alike
        • meeting id subject to brute force very quickly enabling unwanted meeting participants
        • no end to end encryption despite opposing PR claim
        • shares private email addressed and photos
        • treats private contacts as if belonging to a company's contacts
        • sends private user and usage data to Facebook, regardless whether persons have Facebook accounts (sounds familiar)

        In one word: malware.

  3. madthinus

    Tells you a lot. They have not marketed Skype or promoted it in years. Who has failed who?

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to madthinus:

      Yep. Great opportunity for Microsoft to quickly grab some advertising time and get out their message, but they won’t do that. Highlighting capabilities on a product website presumes you already have people going there.

  4. elevation001

    Love the title!

  5. jimem1

    Actually, this is something new. You don't need an account to create or join a meeting. Open a meeting at . You can then send link to others. No one has to have an account. If you follow the getting started you will find you can even schedule meetings and upload files. Previously you needed an MSA account.

  6. crfonseca

    Skype has always been an also ran, at best.

    It's also always been clunky and cumbersome, where doing the simplest things was always far too complicated. It's always been incredibly unreliable, sometimes it works fine, sometimes it just refuses to work, and you always have no idea why.

    The only thing it had going for it was that it let you make calls to landline phones from your PC far cheaper that using an actual phone (this was before mobile phones were a thing).

    Other than that, Microsoft's own Windows Live Messenger did everything else better, which was why it was the number 1 IM app, at least until Facebook Messenger showed up, and Microsoft kept on pretending the iPhone was a dud so they took almost 3 years to port it to the iPhone.

    At its height, WLM had over 300 million active users, which is about the same number Skype has today. Thing is, WLM did this more than a decade ago, and Skype is bundled with Windows, and Microsoft counts you as an "active user" if you just log in to it, even if this happens automatically because it's bundled with Windows.

    So yeah, best 8,5 billion USD Microsoft ever spent!

  7. Winner

    Microsoft over the years that it has owned Skype has added ads and turned the UI into an ungodly mess. The choices are poor - Skype and the ugly UI, or the insecure Zoom.

  8. pauldain

    Skype Marketing Team:

  9. javial

    But Skype Classic never more exists.

  10. MSBassSinger

    I've seen MS pushing Teams for free, and they had 12 million new Teams users in the first week of the "shelter in place" recommendations. Skype is, and has been, at end-of-life, being replaced with Teams. Over a year ago, MS was advising to go with Teams instead of Skye for Business.

    So, why is the article aiming at a dead software project (Skype), instead of the current offering (Teams)? I have used Skype, Skype for Business, Slack, RingCentral, and Zoom, as well as Teams. My personal preference is Teams.

  11. generalprotectionfault

    if Microsoft had listened to its users and not killed Skype 7 for such inferior replacements they wouldn't be in this embarrassing position.

  12. RobertJasiek

    "less secure" is the right description indeed because Skype is not as secure as it should be. Providing it in a webbrowser makes it more secure than as an app, which suffers from bad license conditions affecting privacy. Or rather: could make it more secure but still suffers because only Edge or Chrome are supported instead of every - more secure! - browser. HTML has a standard for video - why can't Microsoft simply use it instead of sticking to proprietary streaming formats?! Since I use Firefox, Skype is still no option for me.

  13. Greg Green

    Our district of shuttered schools is using zoom. I’d never heard of it til now and am surprised to find out it’s almost a ten year old company.

    I‘m also surprised that serious institutions would choose this over well established companies, particularly companies like MS who have decades of experience supporting corporate clients and the security demands they require. In comparison zoom seems like an outhouse missing a door and a wall.

    I used zoom recently to view the funeral of a far off relative. It was quite useful, but why a school district would use this program to telecast the faces, behaviors, names and information of minors really is a puzzle.

    • Vladimir Carli

      In reply to Greg Green:

      I know you will not like the answer but the reason is because it's easy to setup and normally works at the first try. MS applications are a configuration nightmare

    • shaun

      The main reason that Zoom is getting a lot of use right now especially in schools is because of their Gallery View which allows you to see all of the participants at the same time in a tiled layout. This is particularly important for teaches to be able to see all their students and I find it helpful when meeting multiple people to be able to see everyone's reactions and not just the reaction of the person who made a noise. I think Microsoft is working on that option but until it is released, they will miss out on some new users that need that feature.
      In reply to Greg Green:

  14. IanYates82

    It's a huge missed opportunity - hopefully they can claw back some share. Most people - me included - didn't know that Skype had the ability to generate meeting links and thus mean participants didn't need their own Microsoft account.

    If only Microsoft offered "blur your background before entering the call" for when you start a meeting in Teams...

    • LordMartarius

      In reply to IanYates82:

      There is a background blur in Teams. We use it here at work all the time. It is on the screen before you join the video call. If my memory serves me, it is the second button to the left. But don't hold me to that! :-)

      • crfonseca

        In reply to LordMartarius:

        I does have background blur, and I use it all the time.

        But from what I understand it might depend on the "tenant" you're in, because different "tenants" have different funcionality.

        So YMMV.

    • Vladimir Carli

      In reply to IanYates82:

      for incredible reasons, Teams is missing the function of creating a link to join a meeting and send it out by any means. I know it's possible to send an email but you need to add each email every time. I wonder why is so difficult to just get a link in text format to send it out however one wants. This is the main reason why so many people use zoom in my opinion

  15. red77star

    Skype is going to be replaced soon with Teams. Microsoft will kill this brand soon.

    • mog0

      In reply to red77star:

      "Skype for business" is being replaced by teams. Apart from the name and a subset of their features they have nothing in common. Just another example of bad MS branding.

  16. craigsn

    If the person I'm inviting to meet now on Skype doesn't have it installed, what happens on the receivers end? Does it open a browser and run skype there, or does it try/force you to install the skype application?

  17. sandeepm

    That Microsoft is doing this in an attempt to sway the crowd is a misinterpretation of their intent to simply be good samartans in the current fight. They do not have any intent to improve GroupMe or Skype in the long term. They will just let them continue for a while and eventually kill them. Providing freebies direct to consumers is not part of their longer term strategy. At some point, you will not be able to use these things (mail, drive, chat) unless you pay for them.