It’s time for Skype to leave behind its past and build a foundation for a better future. The Skype team at Microsoft have gone through rough patches; while the Skype experience – for users – have been somewhat static in the past few months, it has been going through a significant reform behind the curtains.
Microsoft announced this transition a while ago; essentially, Skype is moving away from its peer-to-peer network architecture, onto a more cloud-based approach.
Skype’s original peer-to-peer approach was beneficial for Skype, as it requires fewer resources on Skype’s part; today, however, Skype can rely on Microsoft’s scalable backend.
Relying on the cloud has its benefits; for one, this would allow for a lighter Skype client; the client can trim a lot of bloat off of itself. This improvement alone will result in a faster and more responsive Skype experience.
Second, it would allow the Skype team to implement some new features; things like mobile group calls, cloud file sharing, Microsoft’s live translator service across more platforms, etc.
Unfortunately, the transition from a peer-to-peer network to a cloud-based network isn’t a painless one.
This switch requires core changes into how Skype connects to its network, which would be fine if Skype were still supporting all the platforms it used to.
In October, last year, the Skype team announced that it’s dropping support for Windows Phone 8.1; while the majority of Skype users are using supported platforms like Windows, iOS, Android, macOS, and even Linux, there are a few who are stuck on older platforms.
As a result of this transition, the Skype app for Windows Phone 8.1 – and all other unsupported platforms – will stop working, come March the 1st.
That’s big trouble for Windows on mobile – as we mention in our original coverage – only Windows 10 Mobile users with the Anniversary Update will be able to use Skype after this transition. That’s about 4.2% of the already insignificant Windows 10 Mobile market share.
Leaving aside the depressing bits; this transition is a great opportunity for Skype to trim some of the fat it has gained over the years.
Once the transition is over, Skype can spread its wings and focus on adding amazing features that rely on the cloud; 2017 is going to be an exciting year for Skype.
Skype is already working on some of these new features.
The Skype Mingo app on Android, for example, is an alpha that tries to integrate SMS and regular phone calls into Skype. It’s like iMessage for Android, something Google failed to accomplish on its own platform.
If you are using Skype on one of the supported platforms, make sure to update it to the latest version before the 1st of March. If you are on an unsupported platform and rely on Skype extensively, you will have to switch to a new platform.