Neha Marfani

Cannon Writer

Ever since quarantine started and we all have been zooming through our classes, online meetings, and other social interactions; you probably have pondered a question at the back of your mind. Why are we Zooming and not Skyping? What happened to Skype? Where did Skype go when we needed it the most? Where did Skype go when it was it’s time to shine? Well, I am here to satisfy your curiosity!

Let’s start from the beginning. Skype was launched in 2003 by a company founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. Initially Skype only offered voice calls through a computer. However, in 2006, video conferencing features were introduced. This widely changed people’s perceptions of communication as video conferencing became one of the most popular forms of conversing. Businesses adopted Skype for conference calls and saved money on expensive trips, families felt closer to each other despite being across the globe, and, best of all, it was a free service! You only needed to create an account, and bam, you could see your cousins in Asia through your computer screen!

In 2011, however, Microsoft purchased Skype for $8.5 billion, hoping to create improvements in its design and introduce new features. The same year, Zoom, WeChat, and Snapchat were founded and Apple launched its iPhone 4S. Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype faced a lot of challenges as other messaging and communication apps gained popularity. Microsoft deprecated Windows Live Messenger in favour of Skype and it became the default messaging app for Windows 8.1 in 2013. 

Microsoft also completely changed Skype’s internal framework. When Microsoft acquired Skype, the service utilized peer-to-peer networking. This technology allowed for computers to be connected to each other directly over the internet. This was not efficient for mobile devices so Microsoft decided to switch to cloud-powered servers back in 2013. This transition was long and difficult and resulted in numerous glitches and bugs in the app. Skype became unreliable. It became only a matter of time until Skype got replaced by other video calling and communication apps like Apple Facetime, Facebook Messenger, and Whatsapp. These were relatively easier to use by comparison, and were far more reliable to boot.

In terms of Skype’s interface, issues began to arise as the application transitioned to cloud-powered servers. Instead of fixing these underlying issues with the app, Microsoft instead introduced newer features which left the users frustrated. As a result, the company had to redesign the whole app multiple times over the course of the last seven years.

Zoom, on the other hand, has a very simple interface. It is easily accessible by anyone who has a smartphone. You can host free meetings for up to 100 attendees for 40 minutes where people don’t even need to log into an account! Compared to Skype, Zoom is fairly easy to use by people of all ages, does not have bugs or complicated updates

In 2016, there were rumors that Microsoft was considering bidding $8 billion for Slack, a proprietary business communication platform. However, Bill Gates was against the idea and pushed to focus on improving Skype for Business. In Microsoft’s struggle to dominate the business world, Microsoft Teams was created and launched in 2017, which is now Slack’s biggest competitor.

Microsoft Teams is not just a communication platform, it is a platform that offers a wide range of tools and services from Office 365 that support collaborative work and communication in workspaces. As Microsoft Teams gained popularity among businesses with around 75 million daily users, Microsoft announced in July 2019 that it’s planning to end Skype for Business. This service will be discontinued on July 31, 2021 and new customers of Office 365 are being directed to use Microsoft Teams instead.

I had The Cannon Newspaper family think back on their experiences with Skype and here is what they said:

Minha Khan: “7 years ago, one of my friends suggested we video chat on Skype, and that was my first experience with it. I remember perceiving the platform as a shiny, new, novel technology that I was lucky to have access to. It was one of the first of video conferencing tools back then. but after that, Google Hangouts became the next new thing for kids my age and Skype was out of the picture

Alyson Allen:  “Skype was a way for me to connect with friends over the summers back in highschool. I never had a good internet connection growing up but was amazed when I was finally able to video chat. I eventually used it more to talk to my brother across the country! Then one day I just stopped using it, I’m not sure why.

Today, we have more apps for video conferencing and messaging than we can count; each offering one thing over another. These apps are constantly being updated, going in and out of style. Who knows, perhaps Zoom will suffer a similar fate in five years!

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