What Happened To Skype?

Tell me it’s just me.

October 10, 2016

Is it just me - or does Skype suck?

For various reasons, this academic year has been a year of web meetings. Not a day goes by where I don’t find myself peering into a webcam at colleagues also peering through their webcams.

I think that I have more web meetings than phone calls. You?

For all these web meetings I find myself on a variety of platforms.

For one-to-one meetings, the preferred IP video/voice application is FaceTime. Macs are so dominant amongst my learning technology crowd that we don’t even need to ask if FaceTime will work. The beauty of FaceTime is that it does so little.  No screen sharing. No presentations. No group meetings (although that would be really nice). One click and you are looking at and speaking with the person that you want to look at and speak with.

For work meetings I’ve made the move from Adobe Connect to BlueJeans. Connect is still my choice for synchronous online teaching and webinars. BlueJeans seems like a really good alternative for a relatively lightweight and inexpensive video conferencing system. It does everything that you need and not much else. I like that it is easy to choose computer or phone for voice. The platform seems reliable and elegant. Scheduling a meeting is easy with a dedicated BlueJeans room. Have you been using BlueJeans?

For other work meetings, we often end up on Skype. The Skype I’m talking about is the free Skype. Not the paid Skype for Business (formerly Lync) that you can buy from Microsoft.  Free Skype should be great.  It is a proven technology. It supports group video calls. There is an app - or you can use Skype through the browser.

The problem that I keep having is that my Skype experience keeps being terrible. Start with the Mac Skype app. (I’m on 7.37). This has got to be the most confusing and ugliest application of all time. To make a Skype call you need to know someone’s Skype name, and then they have to accept you as a Skype contact (I think).

If you are Skyping with someone you never Skyped with before I’ve found it good practice to do a “practice” Skype. The user interface is non-intuitive in the extreme.

Not to mention the ugly and irrelevant ads that the Skype app displays when logging in. Right now Skype is pushing Ancestry.com and an article on MSN inside my Skype app.  Weird.

And then - well - my Skype calls keep being glitchy. The video is wonky. The audio is bad.

Things seem to be fine on FaceTime or BlueJeans, but weird on Skype.

I really can’t tell if this is just a random problem. If I’m catching my network on a bad day. If the fault lies somewhere else beyond the Skype application.

In talking to other folks it seems as if I’m not alone. They also report Skype weirdness. But for now, I’ll assume my Skype problems are my own user error - but it would be good to hear about your experience.

Please tell me that Skype is awesome. That I’m deluded, and that I need to get with the program.

Shouldn’t of Microsoft’s purchase of Skype have ensured that Skype would be robust? Wouldn’t Microsoft want as many people as possible in the Skype ecosystem, ready to upgrade to more features?

What do you think about Skype?


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