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Microsoft's Skype Drops Modern App In Favour of Old-Fashioned Win32 App 186

mikejuk writes: Microsoft, after putting a lot of effort into persuading us that Universal Apps are the way of the future, pulls the plug on Skype modern app, to leave just the desktop version. Skype is one of Microsoft's flagship products and it has been available as a desktop Win32 app and as a Modern/Metro/WinRT app for some time. You would think that Skype would support Universal Apps, there are few enough of them — but no. According to the Skype blog: 'Starting on July 7, we're updating PC users of the Windows modern application to the Windows desktop application, and retiring the modern application.' Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 Universal Apps as the development platform for now and the future, but its Skype team have just disagreed big time. If Microsoft can't get behind the plan why should developers? (Also at Windows Central and VentureBeat.)
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Microsoft's Skype Drops Modern App In Favour of Old-Fashioned Win32 App

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  • Especially odd... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @04:23AM (#49902965) Journal
    This seems particularly weird given that Microsoft has devices where (with, no doubt, a painful list of 'write once, port everywhere' caveats) 'Modern' is the option. Windows RT was the first stab, though it dragged along win32 for Office; but it's dead and irrelevant. Windows Phone, though, unless also headed for the chopping block, is presumably still going to have Skype, and it isn't slated to get win32 any time soon.

    Is the dogfood really so dreadful that they'd terminate the metro version on every device that has full windows available, despite the presence/absence of touchscreen, design favoring conventional or tablet-style use, and so on?
    • Re:Especially odd... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @05:24AM (#49903079)

      Microsoft really fails miserably at the idea of cross platform apps. They either just don't get it or they don't want to get it. .Net was suppose to be Microsoft key to cross platform future. Similar archecture to Java however to get some competive speed advantage they took out the ability to be cross platform creating an language that is slower then native code but only works on one platform, there is even issues from 32 bit and 64 bit.

      The metro design is extreamly limited for developers and you can't take any advantage of hardware, you have the general controlled level of JavaScript in a browser.

      Microsoft needs to realize that if you make a cross platform app, you will expect it to run on different platforms, and have access to the system a little more in depth then what the browser will access. Otherwise we will just deploy our apps via the web.

      • I've moved to SIP long ago.

        SIP to SIP is free.
        With a free DID number inbound calls are free unlike Skype in.
        Outbound has many vendors and price plans unlike skype.
        3rd party hardware is common. Panasonic, Cisco/Linksys, Grandstream, Snom, unlike Skype.
        My free SIP account has free voicemail, multi presence, voice to email, conference calls, Skype gateway etc.
        An INUM is standard
        I have many PC & tablet softphones to choose from. Ekiga, Jitsi, Twinkle, etc. Some support video like Skype.
        I can choose codects

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @07:08AM (#49903289) Homepage Journal

      TFA says Windows RT will continue to get the Skype Metro app. So actually... I'm kinda struggling to see the logic here. Skype will still be maintained on both platforms, it's just people with Windows 8 tablets with an ix86 architecture will now have to navigate to the (touch-awkward) desktop to use Skype.

      Uh, what?

      And yet I can't get myself too upset about this because the Metro app had that horrible "Cannot use anything other than the logged in Microsoft account unless you want to force all your apps to have different accounts" "feature". For those saying "So?", if you've tried to use 8.1 in the latter mode, Windows acts like you're committing a crime each time you install a new app that requires a Microsoft account. And to give you some idea of what requires a Microsoft account, Microsoft FUCKING SOLITAIRE will bug you constantly until you associate it with one. There's no "Leave me alone, no, I don't need my current Spider status stored in the cloud you idiot, why would you even think that's something I want let alone insist on demanding login credentials every time I start this game" checkbox.

      • by Smurf ( 7981 )

        Fucking Solitaire?

          That sounds like and intriguing game!

  • by nateman1352 ( 971364 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @04:26AM (#49902971)
    The limited APIs and strict sand-boxing on universal apps limits the amount of actually useful software you can write for it. "Universal" really means lowest common denominator between our phone and desktop os. If all you care about running on your computer is cut the rope and angry birds then its fine. If you want an actual full featured computer... not so much.
    • by jma05 ( 897351 )

      I don't use the Universal App API. So I have to ask. How is it worse than the model used by the Android and iOS API? Why wouldn't it be adequate for an app like Skype.

      • by nateman1352 ( 971364 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @05:49AM (#49903133)

        I don't use the Universal App API. So I have to ask. How is it worse than the model used by the Android and iOS API? Why wouldn't it be adequate for an app like Skype.

        For basic calling functionality yes you could definitely get by with an Universal app. But remember that they sell a bunch of USB Skype phones that plug in to your desktop and have a keypad for dialing numbers and sometimes a LCD screen for contacts and/or video calls. There is pretty much no way you are getting stuff like that working with a Universal app.

        • by Rhywden ( 1940872 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @06:10AM (#49903175)

          Of course you can get that to work - you can access USB devices just fine through Universal Apps.

          I'm currently doing that myself for a USB measuring device which is used for Physics lessons and can measure speeds, voltage, magnetic field strengths and so on. The vendor's program is written by engineers for engineers - and not so much suited for pupils. So I'm using the Vendor's API and implement a custom-tailored solution for every experiment the pupils have to do.

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            But not generic human interface devices. The "generic" usage page, commonly used for non-Xbox 360 gamepads, is explicitly blocked in Windows Runtime's HID manager..

            • Nope. You just need to use the Windows.Devices.HumanInterfaceDevice namespace and jump through some additional hoops.

              Because that measuring device I was talking about? That's also not on their list. But I can use it regardless.

              • by tepples ( 727027 )

                You just need to use the Windows.Devices.HumanInterfaceDevice namespace and jump through some additional hoops.

                What are these "additional hoops"? Because it appears I'm somehow failing to understand the API doc [], which states: "The Windows.Devices.HumanInterfaceDevice API supports most HID devices. However, it blocks the top-level application collection represented by the following usage pages, to prevent conflict with other Windows APIs and OS behavior: [...] HID_USAGE_PAGE_GENERIC"

                • Well, they do restrict THOSE specific ones because, for example, you don't access gamepads through the USB / HID namespace. You use Windows.Gaming.Input

                  They stated the reasons in the clear: "to prevent conflict with other Windows APIs" - you can access those just fine, you just have to use their specific namespaces and not the generic ones.

                  • You use Windows.Gaming.Input

                    For one thing, Windows.Gaming.Input appears to require Windows 10 [] and will not work on Windows 8.1. For another, does Windows.Gaming.Input work with both Xbox 360/Xbox One gamepads and generic HID gamepads, or does it work only with Xbox 360/Xbox One gamepads?

                    • Listen, I don't really care. The original argument was: "It's impossible to connect to live cams and shit!"

                      Somehow you made xbox controllers out of it, I don't really care and if I searched a bit more it would most likely turn out to be possible after all. Plus, Universal Apps are targetted at touchscreens on tablets and phones. If you really need to run an emulator or something, Win32 ist still available.

        • by Yomers ( 863527 )
          Why? No microphone or keyboard drivers?
      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Have you tried to run iOS as your main desktop operating system? That's how its worse.

        Primarily, mobile devices are designed to run with a touch interface with a relatively fat and imprecise pointer (your finger) and a relatively small screen area (so screen sharing between multiple apps is much less necessary/useful.)

        Desktops (mostly) use a mouse and keyboard interface, which have significantly higher accuracy (you can just not click until your mouse is in the right spot) and significantly smaller target

    • by thsths ( 31372 )

      Maybe that is the problem, or maybe the Skype group has been sabotaging the modern style ("metro") Skype app. I thought it was simple, but perfectly usable, except for one problem: you could not log into a different account. Not at all. You can only ever log into one account: the one you are logged into the desktop with.

      That is just silly - most people will have at least a private and a professional account. And asking your admin at work to get your private account setup on the PC is just plain silly.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Don't worry, they've been sabotaging the desktop style Skype app as well. Though its mostly in terms of a constant stream of making the IM windows more and more unusable.

        Getting three "mobile-style" chat bubbles per window where I used to get 10+ messages isn't an improvement (basically an additional line wasted for each of the top and bottom borders of each message bubble -- and message wrap more = take more lines too due to similar wasted space on left and right.) Hell it doesn't even look particularly

    • by the limitations of accommodating the iOS and web versions.
  • I don't see nowhere in the article where it says win32. Maybe you talking about win64?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, really. There's no 64-bit Skype. Skype is always 32-bit.

      Why? Because there's no need for a 64-bit version.

      • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @05:59AM (#49903151) Homepage

        I have 2,147,483,648 contacts, you insensitive clod!

        • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

          I can believe you, the way Skype does things.

          It's my biggest criticism of Skype - you have the "All" list which pretty much shows everyone you've ever talked with on there and grows massive. And then you hav the groups. What you DON'T have is an "Ungrouped" category, which is desperately needed. What am I meant to do, go through "All" and remember who I haven't grouped??

    • Yeah, article should have mentioned Delphi instead.
    • Win32 refers to an API, not a address bus bit width.

      64 bit apps use the Win32 API, just with 64 bit pointers.

      • Re:win32 really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @07:17AM (#49903313) Homepage Journal

        Well, Microsoft refers to it as Win64 [].

        Win32 is essentially the same as Win16, with 32 bit pointers in a single address space. Win64/Win32/Win16 are all the Windows API with different memory models.

        Disclaimer: I was programming these things in the 1980s and 1990s, which is why I'm getting hammered in another thread for pointing out that "PC" has always been used to refer to computers based upon the IBM PC architecture and its descendants, and no, Amigas were never PCs, even though they were personal computers. Youngsters these days. Tsk.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2015 @05:14AM (#49903059)

    Universal Apps have a permission system, like Android. That means that, with a little tinkering, an app like Skype can be configured to work properly yet still have no privacy-violating access to parts of your computer it has no business being in.

    But a full-blown Win32 app isn't restricted in the same way - or at least, preventing it from behaving maliciously is a lot harder. As a datamining tool, a Win32 app is far, far more valuable than an app.

    In case people have forgotten, the Skype team was working with the NSA long before Microsoft acquired them. This decision should surprise no one.

  • Universal Apps are good for tablet-oriented apps that would be useful on a desktop. They could, with a bit of tweaking, be used to allow some phone apps to run on the desktop, but the form factor demands UI differences that make them awkward to use with desktop conventions. The problem isn't making the applications portable. That's the easy part. The hard part is dealing with the fact that phones and tablets demand a different type of UI than a desktop PC to deal with the drastic difference in physical scre

  • It sounds like the proposed move of ms office to dotnet.
    Shifting an established codebase to another just for the sake of policy is rarely worth the pain.
    • Even worse, with .NET it may be easier to run Office on Linux. Now that would be a huge problem for Microsoft.

  • My experience with this app from the Windows Store is that it did not start when I logged in. I am one of those ecohipsters that unplugs the machine when not in use! So, it is a hassle to use, and is not a bright idea, if I may add. Even my Samsung TV does logs in automatically to Skype if told so! That is a lifesaver for old people.
  • by mfearby ( 1653 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @06:02AM (#49903155) Homepage

    It's Microsoft's biggest asset (as well as client/server development platforms). Just because somebody else seems to be doing well in the mobile space, why does Microsoft see a need to translate that into ruining one of the good things going for them? If Microsoft trashes the desktop PC they do so at their peril. And I say this as an avid Mac user at home and Win8/.NET/SQL Server developer at work. The vast majority of 5 x 7 workers are NOT going to be productive with a tablet. They ARE going to be productive on "traditional" desktop computers (whether they use apps in a web browser all day or not).

  • by cuby ( 832037 ) on Saturday June 13, 2015 @06:03AM (#49903157)
    Skype has a completely difference UI for windows desktop, metro, Mac OS, iOS on iPad, iOS on iPhone, Android (last time I checked) and Linux. All different!!! And probably none is good. Why would they care about universal apps?
    • Speaking of Linux, I recently uninstalled Skype as it was the only software that needed 32-bit compatibility libraries. I didn't want to worry about updating them all the time for one crappy closed application. I guess this isn't such a problem on Windows which provides this compatibility anyway, but I thought it's there for running old and unsupported binaries, not some new releases in a 64-bit era.
  • by Ark42 ( 522144 )

    Maybe they can finally make it looks readable on HiDPI (192dpi) screens like my 2880x1620 laptop. The font pixelation is so horrible you can't use the chat at all.

    • That's because Microsoft keeps hammering the fonts into the sub-pixels of the display. Apple still has much better font rendering on an old display than Microsoft on a HiDPI display.

      • by Ark42 ( 522144 )

        It's because unless your app declares itself HiDPI-aware in the manifest file (Skype does not do this) then Windows will pretend that it's still 96dpi and then just scale up the UI 200% (for 192dpi screens). But it's not as simple as adding the line to the manifest file. You actually have to write your software without the assumption of 96dpi dialogs, and use the system API functions to query the proper scales. Most developers never seem to even know about those functions though, so you end up with a rando

  • Take a look at Office, their cash cow for a zillion years now. But even today, Powerpoint supports CTRL-Q to exit while Excel and Word don't. And us old-timers remember that all pre 2003 (or maybe 2000) Office suites were abysmal at copypasting text from one app to another. Font, font size, color, etc. would get completely bollixed up.

    So no surprise that Microskype is going this way.

    • Why would you want to use Ctrl-Q to quit when Alt-F4 is the standard across Windows?

      • Why would a shortcut that used to work in older versions suddenly stop working in the new version, unless they mapped it to some other function?

        That's like Adobe on OS X. For horizontal scrolling, the default OS setting is to hold the shift key while using the mouse scrollwheel. But Adobe? Of course not. You need to hold command while using the scrollwheel. And there's no setting to change it back either. Stupid assholes.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Because F4 on a laptop is "reduce backlight brightness". Using the numbered F keys on a laptop requires holding down the Fn key. So closing a window could becomes Alt+Fn+F4, which is a lot trickier to do with one hand.

        Also because Accel+Q was the standard in consumer GUIs before Windows even existed.

        • You have a shitty laptop.

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            What non-shitty 10" laptop should I have bought instead? I need 10" because it's the right size to carry in a satchel and pull out to use while riding the city bus to and from work.

        • What the heck laptop have you been using that this is the case. I would say either you are mistaken completely, or yours is the exception, and not the rule. Every laptop I've ever owned, the F-keys are the F-keys and if you want the laptop specific functions (like screen brightness, volume, or trackpad on/off), then you have to press the Fn key with the F-key, not the other way around as you described.

          So if quitting a program required Alt+F4, then you press Alt+F4 to make it work. The Fn key wouldn't
          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            Perhaps there's a BIOS setting to switch between "default is actual F keys; hold Fn to get media keys" and "default is media keys; hold Fn to get F keys". But if there is a setting, my Dell Inspiron mini 1012 came with it set to the latter.

      • Well, because keystrokes involving F-# are stupid because it's not a standard touch-typing-reachable key pair, because CTRL-Q predates Windows, and depending on "Fn"-key prefs, alt-F# may or may not do the thing you expected. In case that's not clear: you can set Prefs so teh Fn-F# combo such as switch screen, WiFi on/off, etc are the default and you have to use Fn-Alt-F4 to quit an app.

  • Skype is one of Microsoft's flagship products and it has been available as a desktop Win32 app and as a Modern/Metro/WinRT app for some time. You would think that Skype would support Universal Apps, there are few enough of them â" but no. According to the Skype blog: 'Starting on July 7, we're updating PC users of the Windows modern application to the Windows desktop application, and retiring the modern application.'

    So, basically one of Microsoft's "flagship" products is yet again a product they didn'

  • Some designer who cares more about fashion than functionality comes up with a "new" idea

    Management decides to vote for fashion over usability, and decides to force it on users who hate it and don't want it

    At first, they called it "metro", a perfectly fine name

    Then, they decided that they needed to strong-arm the users a bit more, so they renamed it "modern"

    This is a classic use of a name as propaganda to make users believe that "modern" is better, and the alternative is "obsolete"

    On the desktop, the metro i

  • by Teunis ( 678244 ) <teunis.wintersgift@com> on Saturday June 13, 2015 @03:23PM (#49905179) Homepage Journal
    I don't miss DOS. in DOS, everything was full screen and there was no multitasking.

    Forcing full screen on all apps is going back to DOS days, not forward to a multi-use multi-tasking computer capable of supporting a user in multiple ways instead of just a single-task ... game machine.
    because that was pretty close to all DOS was good for.

    Anyone who wants skype to be a full screen app needs their brain examined, and then needs to find a job where only skype is the tool they use, and never ever write a single document of any kind. ever.
    PS: we use skype at my office quite heavily. Usually passing around document references .... while adding "giffy" support would make some people insanely happy and drive others insane - NO ONE uses the full screen crap.

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"