Skype backtracks, will continue support for third-party products

Credit: ejhildreth via Flickr

Skype set off a firestorm when it announced that it would discontinue support for its desktop APIs, used by developers of apps and hardware that connect to Skype.

The result would have meant that many functions on hardware used with Skype – like call answer and hang up functions on headsets – would stop working. In addition, many third party apps, like those that record Skype calls, would also stop working.

After customer complaints, including a petition, Skype relented last night, but possibly only temporarily. “I’m happy to share that we will be extending support for two of the most widely used features – call recording and compatibility with hardware devices – until we determine alternative options or retire the current solution,” Skype’s Noah Edlestein wrote in a blog post.

Skype is used in plenty of business scenarios and dropping support for third party development would have created problems for many users.

“I have been using Skype with Pamela for YEARS, and it has become critical for my business. Killing the API will cost me, financially and otherwise. Re-think,” Jim Race wrote on the petition. Pamela offers products for recording Skype calls.

The founder of Pamela himself sounded relieved to hear about Skype’s change of heart, although he’s also concerned about the future. “In the name of all Pamela for Skype users and our team, we here at PamConsult want to thank you for this reversal of the decision taken a few weeks ago,” Dick Shiferli, the founder of Pamela parent company PamConsult wrote on the Skype discussion thread. “We are hoping that Skype will provide a simple and easy migration path to a new API model which will create a truly vibrant community of partners for Microsoft Skype.  

Skype should be able to write APIs that will allow the third party ecosystem to continue while supporting its own ambitions. It explained its plan to drop the desktop API by saying that the company has been working on new technologies that will benefit Skype across all platforms, especially mobile devices. But, it said, the desktop API doesn’t support mobile app development.

The door is still open for Skype to drop the API in the future but given the furor this time, maybe it’ll do the work required to transition to a new platform to support the third party apps.

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