Skype for Linux Breaks. People Blame Microsoft. Are We Surprised?Skype for Linux Breaks. People Blame Microsoft. Are We Surprised?
Microsoft declared its love for Linux more than a year ago. But some open source fans have not been feeling much love from Redmond in the wake of reports that the newest version of Skype for Linux doesn't really work, and Microsoft is doing little to fix the problem.
February 29, 2016
Microsoft declared its love for Linux more than a year ago. But some open source fans have not been feeling much love from Redmond in the wake of reports that the newest version of Skype for Linux doesn’t really work, and Microsoft is doing little to fix the problem.
A version of Skype has been available for Linux for many years. It hasn’t always had as many features as the versions for Windows and OS X, and it has never been open source, but it has worked well enough if you want to use it to make video or voice calls on Linux.
That’s more than one can say for some other widely used proprietary apps, like Adobe Flash, which Adobe stopped supporting on Linux four years ago.
Recently, however, the Linux version of Skype has seen some neglect on Microsoft’s part. For well over a year, Linux users went without any updates to the Skype app for their OS, even though Microsoft pushed out newer versions of Skype for other platforms.
Then, reports began circulating about a week ago that Skype for Linux has stopped working in some situations. Specifically, users are unable to host calls using the Linux app.
That failure, combined with Microsoft’s apparent lack of interest in responding to support requests, prompted more than a little outrage, most of it embodied in this Reddit thread.
In some ways, this is a movie we’ve seen many times before. A proprietary app for Linux stops working, people get upset (and blame Bill Gates, as if that makes sense) and the vendor doesn’t do anything — presumably, in this case, because desktop Linux remains a small enough market that Microsoft sees little reason to worry about resolving the problem quickly.
But things are also different this time because Microsoft over the past year has become very vocal about engaging with the open source community on friendlier terms. Under CEO Satya Nadella, the company has declared that it “loves Linux” (a far cry from Steve Ballmer’s description of Linux as a “cancer” in the early 2000s). It has forged partnerships with companies like Canonical. It has added all sorts of open source options to the Azure cloud.
Against this backdrop, it seems slightly surprising — though not shocking — that Microsoft is not taking Skype for Linux more seriously. To be sure, Skype support for the open source community is much less important for the company’s plans than its moves regarding open source in the cloud or IoT. But it’s unexpected nonetheless to see Microsoft so uninterested in making sure Skype works in basic ways on Linux-based platforms.
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