Older Skype Clients Face Forced Retirement

To help keep the Skype platform moving forward, Microsoft is saying goodbye to past versions of the software for Windows and Mac, including some recent editions.

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Microsoft is urging Windows and Mac Skype users to upgrade to the newest version of Skype after revealing that it has set an atypically aggressive retirement cut-off for older editions of the software.

"As we look ahead to the future, we're focusing our efforts on bringing the latest and greatest to the most recent versions of Skype," wrote Skype manager Tom Huang in a company blog post. "As a result, we are going to retire older versions of Skype for Windows desktop (6.13 and below) as well as Skype for Mac (6.14 and below) over the next few months."

The move comes soon after Microsoft launched a "remastered" Skype 5.0 app for the iPhone. "Skype 5.0 for iPhone shares a consistent look and feel with the Windows Phone and Android apps, while still optimizing for iOS's unique strengths," said Skype Product Marketing Manager Eric Lin in a statement.

It's not uncommon for software makers to discontinue older products on a regular basis, particularly as they fall behind the times. Microsoft, however, has a history of supporting its software for several years or, in the case of its popular Windows XP operating system, a full 12 years.

Microsoft's latest announcement signals a significant shift in its tactics.

The soon-to-be-retired Skype 6.13 for Windows software client was released just five months ago on Jan. 22. The update addressed a CPU-spiking bug affecting users of the Chrome browser from Google. Similarly, Skype 6.14 for the Mac was released on Feb. 19 with improved compatibility with Apple's latest version of OS X called Mavericks. The newest versions of Skype for Windows and Mac are 6.16 and 6.18, respectively.

Users shouldn't expect to hang on to their old builds for too long, not if they hope to still connect to the Skype service. In short, old versions will be soon rendered inoperable.

Replying to a comment on the company's blog, Shana Pearlman, content marketing manager at Skype, explained that "once a version is retired, users will no longer be able to sign into the retired version until they upgrade to the latest version of Skype." In the past, even past-their-prime versions of Skype could generally connect to the integrated voice over IP (VOIP), video calling and text messaging platform, although they would be missing out on new features and enhancements.

Pearlman did have good news for Skype users of the now-unsupported Windows XP desktop operating system. She confirmed that upcoming versions of Skype will be compatible with the aging OS.

"We encourage all users to update to the latest version today to continue using Skype without disruption," stated Huang, before hinting that Microsoft is "working on great new experiences for Skype."

Microsoft may be gearing up to offer features such as the translation tech that wowed Code Conference attendees in May. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president of Skype and Lync, demoed an early pre-beta version of Skype Translator, an app that translates spoken language in near real time.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...