How unutterably rude Skype has become

I turned on my Macbook this morning to be greeted with this popup:

A new version 6.3.0.602 of Skype is available and to be able to continue to use Skype you must download and install it.

What the heck, Skype? That’s not how upgrades work. How unutterably rude you’ve become since Microsoft bought you.

Coincidence?

And what is soooo important in the new version — a sub-point release 6.3.0.602 — that you’re desperate for me to download it? I can only assume it’s spyware. At least, something that’s for your benefit, not mine.

By the way, this is an application-modal dialogue with no cancel button. There is no way to do anything else with Skype now — it’s totally crippled until I bend to their will. Even the Quit option is greyed out and the Meta-Q shortcut disabled. That’s beyond rude.

It’s looking more and more like it’s time to jump ship from Skype, which used to be an excellent, reliable, helpful service, and and increasingly none of these. What do people recommend as an alternative?

Update (12:11pm)

A response, of sorts, from Skype support:

14 responses to “How unutterably rude Skype has become

  1. I noticed the exact same thing yesterday, and had the exact same feelings about it. It seems to be a sad cliché that corruption sets in as soon as big coorperations lay their hands on something good. Look at what happened with Skitch: that was probably the most delightfully usable and well-designed application I have ever come across. Until Evernote came barging in on its mammoth feet and utterly ruined it.

  2. There’s a huge gap in usability between the Windows and OSX (and also Linux for that matter) for Skype. It’s much better on Windows. And by the way you’re not (yet) forced to update forcefully on Windows. They should really try to make the experience more unified.

  3. Their response comes across a little bit passive/aggressive. Also note that the response doesn’t explain a way to continue to use Skype without upgrading. Just apologizes for the “inconvenience” of upgrading, not for the faux pas of forcing said upgrade.

  4. Seems more like a problem of UX / implementation. You don’t complain when web applications upgrade themselves behind your back; most operating systems install at least minor updates automatically, some major desktop apps (e.g. Chrome) do that too, mobile apps may require confirmation only if updates require new permissions, etc. The trend is clear everywhere towards self-management of platforms and applications. But of course, the implementation has to be very good, both in UX (not disrupting the user’s workflow) and in quality (not breaking things that worked before, not losing data or removing features willy-nilly, etc.).

  5. The update theoretically treated me worse by not saying anything to me at all and quietly telling my co-workers that I was out of date and it was refusing to work with my unupdated version…

    Apparantly the update is about an incompatible change to the “Group Chat” feature. For several days people would try to add me (or anyone else on my team) to a Group Chat, not notice the little alert that “so-and-so does not have a new enough version of skype to participate. Please send them this URL…” and then get confused/angry that none of us were responding to them!

    My team, incidently, is standardized on Ubuntu, and the URL in question (once someone noticed and let us know) had an info page with “Linux: Coming Soon.” on it. Yay. Thanks. A little Googling turned up that the Linux client had actually been released, and was available from the Download page, but the FAQ (which Skype was telling everyone to send to us) had not been updated to reflect this fact.

    Loved skype once because it let me get good face-to-face time with my at-the-time distantly travelling wife, but it’s gotten steadily more annoying since then.

  6. Nicolas, it’s bizarre that a corporation the size of Skype still treats Mac and Linux users (each worth, what, 10% of their market) as second-class citizens. I’ve never used the Windows version — I am pleased to say that the last Windows box I used for anything but games was running Windows 95. But I have to assume its Skype is better than the crud I’m seeing.

    Jason, you are dead right, their response is completely useless — a nonpology and a snide implication that I am not running the Right operating system. (Often I’m not, I prefer to be a release or two behind, but as it happens my MacBook is up to date.)

    Osvaldo, you make a good point. Silent self-upgrading is indeed less objectionable than flatly shutting down and refusing to run as my Skype is currently doing. But the issue in this case is exacerbated by the fact that every single Skype upgrade I’ve ever installed — I’m not exaggerating, I mean literally every one — has made to the product worse. Clumsier UI, more prone to crashing, more audio lag, more inclined to forget the text of old chats. You’d think their “upgrades” were going back in time.

    B.Bennet, I got to worst of both worlds: the “tell my co-workers that I was out of date and it was refusing to work with my unupdated version” strategy is what forced me recently to upgrade my Ubuntu desktop box’s Skype, which I had to do by abandoning the operating system’s package and installing theirs. Horrible. (And, sure enough, the upgraded version instantly crashed every time I ran it, until I removed my entire old .Skype directory on the advice of a colleague who’d had the same problem.)

  7. Yeah. I worked for Nokia Mobile Phones for 2 1/2 years until the deal with MS was closed. A week later, I was looking for a new job… If I said that MS sucks, it would possibly considered to be … well, I leave that up to you.

  8. Tox will be as alternative soon about 2-5 months depending on development speed.

  9. Here’s how you bypass that. Right click on Skype, click show package contents.

    Open Contents

    Make your lines look like this

    Skype version 6.3.0.602 (18210), Copyright © 2004-2010 Skype Technologies S.A.

    CFBundleShortVersionString
    6.3.0.602

    CFBundleVersion
    6.3.0.602

    This tricks the server into thinking you are running the latest version of Skype.

    Enjoy!

  10. Forgot to mention in my comment, after opening the Contents folder, open Info.plist. Then you need to make change the lines say 6.3.0.602 instead of the older version number.

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/172828/Info.plist

    Or, just paste that version in your Contents folder and restart Skype. It should work just fine

  11. The question about your Skype and OS versions could well be a survey for them to determine (a bit late) the depth of the problem. Since I use Skype so seldom, I got an email saying I need to upgrade. Unforch, they don’t have an upgrade available for any Mac OS except the very latest (Mavericks, which is available from Apple for free). But they say they’re working on it. My copy of Skype doesn’t insist on being upgraded (tried just today); it seems to already be 6.3.0.602 though.

    One wonderful feature of their upgrade notices and download pages is that they simply don’t mention version numbers. So, “You must upgrade to the latest version,” but not what version that is and no way to tell whether you’ve already got it.

    I wonder whether this is one of those signs that a development / support team has either lost its morale knowing their product’s security is compromised, or the whole team has quit in disgust to be replaced by people who have no clooz.

  12. Thanks, Christian; but as it happens I suddenly had a very urgent need to have Skype working, so I just shrugged and did their stupid upgrade.

    True to form, the new version is the worst yet. Once the window is closed, there’s no way to re-open it from the top bar, you have to re-start the application; and there is a new and supremely annoying auto-“correct” feature that invariably makes benign typos much more misleading.

  13. Steve Witham suggests:

    I wonder whether this is one of those signs that a development / support team has either lost its morale knowing their product’s security is compromised, or the whole team has quit in disgust to be replaced by people who have no clooz.

    It’s certainly one or the other (or both). Skype is sinking. The problem is, everyone’s going to run for different lifeboats and we might end up with a horrible balkanised ecosystem of multiple proprietary alternatives, all of them non-interoperable with the others.

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