Skype: Abandoning Developers and Inviting Business User Backlash

If you have downloaded the latest Skype 6.9 for Windows Desktop and then started a third party application, such as call recording applications, you will find a message at the top of the Call Logging pane:

Skype4WD.6 9.Notice Skype: Abandoning Developers and Inviting Business User Backlash

While this one mentions Pamela.exe you would get the same message for other programs that use the Skype Desktop API’s, such as Vodburner.exe, Callburner.exe and Faxconnect.exe, etc. You will also find it relates to hardware that embeds Skype API’s, such as speakers, headsets and Skype phones. Click on the FAQ link and you see this message:

SkypeAPI.WhyStopWorking thumb Skype: Abandoning Developers and Inviting Business User Backlash

And a key point made in this post is:

The Desktop API was created in 2004 and it doesn’t support mobile application development. We have, therefore, decided to retire the Desktop API in December 2013.

Update, Oct. 21: VodBurner has been updated such that it no longer uses the Skype Desktop API’s. It does mean some formerly automatic operations now require a manual trigger.

TopDownload.Paid  Skype: Abandoning Developers and Inviting Business User Backlash

At the end of this post I will provide a link to a Change.Org petition to request that Microsoft/Skype reconsider this decision. In the meantime, as a long time follower of personal computing from the launch of PC’s thirty years ago to mobile phones and tablets that are becoming widely adopted today, I would like to make comments on a few trends.

  • We are turning into a world that is highly dependent on software to drive our activities, especially when it comes to operating a business.
    • Developer tools have become more advanced; architecting code in a manner that supports feature sustainability is becoming more important. As a result we can perform many business tasks much more productively and efficiently than even a year or two ago.
    • Innovation and ingenuity demonstrated by developer partners and their business colleagues have made our ability to work as a team with business colleagues, suppliers and customers much simpler.
    • Many of these innovations have been incorporated as a critical communications component of everyday business processes, especially for small-to-medium businesses operating worldwide and using Skype
    • Podcasters have relied on Skype’s various call recording partners to generate content for their shows.
    • Most importantly businesses are relying on application support continuity to establish and maintain their financial profitability.
    • A challenge for the publishers of today’s software is not only to upgrade to new features but to sustain (and enhance) any existing functionality, especially where partners and businesses have come to rely on them
  • New product introductions for mobile devices does not mean the end of a role for desktop PC’s
    • The forthcoming Windows 8.1 and Mac OS/X Mavericks demonstrate that both Microsoft and Apple are continuing to support and enhance desktop operating systems.
    • Tablets and smartphones may become our primary computing devices but there will continue to be a role for desktop PC’s. (I find it much more convenient to write this post on a PC rather than an iPad or BlackBerry 10; I can readily edit posts and respond to comments from these mobile devices, however.)
    • Providing any API functionality for mobile applications should be complementary to Desktop API support; definitely it’s not a replacement.

Bottom line: if Skype is terminating support for its desktop API’s, what is Skype (/Microsoft) contemplating to allow not only these developers, who have put their resources into supporting Skype,  to provide the same or enhanced functionality but also their customers to continue to use these features, such as call recording, in their everyday business communications operations?

Skype, under Microsoft,  has been changing its technology architecture to provide both more reliable conversation experiences and new features such as video messaging. Microsoft has delivered on its commitment to continue to support Skype on other platforms (Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10).

While Skype, since Microsoft’s acquisition continues to meet the AmberMac test, I have to question why a mission critical software vendor that has been so deep in developer partner programs has chosen to abandon its Skype developer partners. It’s simply not good business practice.

From that same post:

If you’d like to provide us with your feedback, simply start Skype and go to Help > Give feedback. Your opinion is important to us and it will help us prioritize potential new features for the Skype users.

So it’s time to gather together all the feedback into one forum. Over at Change.org I have established a petition to gain a measure of the support for requesting a reconsideration of this decision. Please have a look, and if you agree, sign the petition.

Thanks for your consideration.

Full disclosure: since 1983 I have worked with Microsoft as a supplier (PC OS’s), a competitor (memory management and multi-tasking – a top selling utilities for DOS) and a partner (intellectual property education and protection). I’ve been to Redmond; I’ve encouraged acquaintances to join Microsoft as employees.  I have followed Skype for the past eight years as it evolved and matured and been sold and resold; I’ve worked with many of its developer partners, both past and current.

Sign up, but also you can follow the Skype Community forum thread: Discontinuation of Desktop API for how this change is impacting individual Skype users.

P.S. – After four years I am still using my Freetalk Everyman headset and my Yamaha Sound Gadget speakerphone/microphone. Both rely on Skype’s desktop API’s for full functionality.

 Skype: Abandoning Developers and Inviting Business User Backlash

About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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