Skype: A Once Reliable Communication Tool is Falling from Grace

Posted on April 4, 2016 by Brad Sams in Skype, The Sams Report with 0 Comments

Skype Issues Hero

Back in 2011, Microsoft purchased Skype for $8.5 billion and seeing how widely used the communication platform is among consumers and small business, the product has fit nicely into its productivity portfolio. At its Build conference last week, Microsoft said that Skype used to make 3 billion minutes of calls, daily.

The company has done a good job of making sure that Skype is available nearly everywhere; there are apps for all major mobile platforms, and they even have the service built into Outlook.com and other web services. And although the service is available everywhere, the user experience has been heading south for several months, and the problems appear to be compounding.

Message Sync

With Skype being on many different platforms, you likely use the service on your PC or smartphone. Skype has yet to figure out how to properly sync read notifications across the many different platforms it supports.

Frequently, my phone will show several ‘unread’ messages that I have viewed on my PC, and if you are brave enough to hold a conversation using Skype in the browser, you will frequently have the lucky experience of having to ‘clear’ the messages on your PC and phone. Better yet, if you switch PCs, Skype will go into notification shock and display hundreds of past messages in rapid succession from the pop-up window that previews a new message.

Another fun bug that showed up today is where older messages in a conversation show up as unread even though messages above and below the ‘unread’ items do not indicate this status.

And let us not forget the recent bug on the desktop client that forced you to right click and mark conversations as ‘read’ if you wanted to clear the one icon next to a username even though you were actively chatting with the person.

Status

Skype has a feature where you can set your status to online, away, do not disturb, and a few others. As many have reported, they do not always work correctly with Skype showing users online when they are not or the opposite happens on occasion as well.

Notifications Out of Order

dreamstime_s_38875867A key attribute of any chat platform is that messages are displayed in chronological order. This basic and fundamental feature of Skype is often broken with several instances in the last quarter where messages would arrive out of order making it difficult to communicate with Paul.

When messages are out of order, it is generally not an isolated issue. I noted that the last time I was experiencing the problem, many others on Twitter were being vocal about Skype having timestamp synchronization problems.

Ringing Never Stops

If the above issues were the only problem, it would be bad enough, but by far the worst bug is when receiving a call, occasionally, answering the inbound call on your PC will not stop other devices from ringing. This issue happens frequently if you have the win32 app open and a tab with Outlook.com open with Skype logged in, the web client never registers that the call was picked up.

Lost Time

The Skype team appears to have gone in a giant circle in terms of development. The team initially killed the Skype modern app in favor of the win32 client and with Windows 10 release in November (Threshold wave 2), the company introduced three UWP apps; messaging, video and call. Why the company thought taking one app and breaking it into three components was a good idea, I will never understand.

But the three apps are now going away, Microsoft announced that a new UWP Skype app is coming (I already got my hands on it, check it out here), which means Skype has gone in a complete circle from Windows 8 app, win 32 app, three UWP apps, now back to one UWP app; worst of all, they are going to kill off the win32 app, too.

The running around with the development objectives has resulted in Skype standing still in terms of desktop features, as the company constantly shifts priorities about how and what apps it is building for desktop users.

Other Problems

The list goes on and on from video calls not letting some users in to the chat, microphones no longer working and requiring you to restart the app, messages not being sent from the UWP apps. If you take a look at the Skype support forums, it is filled with other users running into bugs.

If I was the only one having these issues, I’d be happy to point the finger at myself, but if you look around the web, Skype is digging itself into a hole of bad reputation. When I asked for a list of Skype issues on Twitter, the list of responses highlights how widespread the problems have become.

Skype was an expensive acquisition for Microsoft and a product that’s used by millions every single day. But with so many issues impacting the product that appear to be compounding, the company needs to stop working on new features and apps until it can get the basics of the service back into an operational and stable state.

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