Skype, the voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video program, is very popular. It’s also pretty bad software. Really, what were you thinking Ballmer when you wrote a check for $8.5-billion for Skype? You do know that not even two years ago Skype was valued at $2.75-billion right ?
Here’s the simple truth. Skype has historically had many software problems and late last year the entire Skype network crashed for several days, we can pretty count on these kind of problems showing up on a regular basis.
You see, Skype is a modified peer-to-peer (P2P) network application. Skype started as a variation of the now outdated Kazaa P2P file-sharing program. When you make a Skype call your voice and video is encoded with a 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption key and then passed from one Skype PC to another between you and whomever you’re calling.
That was when the 50% of all Skype users who were running the 126.96.36.199 version of Skype for Windows started having crashes. Those crashes caused about 40% of those clients to fail… included 25-30% of the publicly available SNs. The still-standing SNs quickly fell under the burden of trying to maintain Skye communications and that was the end of Skype for about two days.
To fix this, Skype added its own “dedicated supernodes,” aka “mega-supernodes” or what I’d just call servers, to provide enough temporary supernode capacity to accelerate the recovery of the peer-to-peer cloud. It worked that time, but, really, do you really want to rely on a network that depends on insecure PC staying insecure? I don’t.
My question though is do you care? Skype’s technology is, well, flimsy is a good word for it. The quality is questionable-especially if you’re not running on Windows. And, this I might add is before Microsoft gets it hands on the program. Sure, Ballmer says he’ll do well by Mac and Linux PCs. Yeah, and if I were Little Red Robin I’d believe the wolf was still grandma too after I noticed her big, sharp teeth.
Free is good. Cheap is good. But, will Microsoft keep it that way? I doubt it. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be looking for Skype alternatives. I’ll talk more about that in another column soon.
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