Skype says it will kill its Desktop API by end of 2013

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Skype, the Microsoft-owned internet telephony service, is planning to kill its Desktop API (application programming interface), according to an email sent to developers by Chris Andrews, Head of Skype Developer Program. Skype wants folks to use Skype URIs as its believes that will allow the developers to access Skype via various platforms — mobile, web and desktop.

Skype is deeply enmeshed into the new Windows. Skype URIs need the Skype client for all communications, as Skype explains on its developer website. The action is to some extent driven by the growth of Skype on mobile, which has actually helped the company grow its usage.

The Desktop API enabled third party applications to communicate with the Skype network and is going to stop working sometime by the end of 2013. “Although we will continue to support the Desktop API for the rest of 2013, in September the App Directory will close,” Andrews wrote. (Full text of his email is below) I have reached out to a few third party app developers and will update the story with their reactions.

The Desktop API is the descendant of the Skype Public API that was first introduced in 2004. In November 2011, Microsoft introduced the Desktop API with much fanfare. Developer chief Andrews at the time told software industry trade publication, the SD Times:

“Skype released its first public API in 2004,” he said. “The biggest request was for a so-called ‘headless version’ of Skype that was all the functionality of the application without the user interface. That was available through SkypeKit in June 2010. Now, we’ve added a video API so developers can embed Skype video into their Mac, Windows and Linux desktop applications.”

Here is Chris Andrews’ complete note.

I am writing to inform you that due to some changes we are making to improve the overall Skype Experience, the Desktop API will cease to function correctly from September 2013 and we have made the decision to de-commission it.

As you may know, Skype has been investing in technology improvements, which will significantly benefit Skype users across all platforms, especially Mobile devices (see “Skype’s Mobile Future”). These changes will significantly improve the speed of delivery of calls and messages, whilst retaining excellent battery life. In addition, as more people are using Skype on more devices, we are also working hard to create a more familiar and consistent Skype experience across all of the major platforms (see “Skype passes 100M Android Installs and Launches Redesigned 4.0″).

As a consequence of this, we have decided to retire our Desktop APIs. These APIs were originally created in 2004 and do not support mobile application development. Going forward, developers will be able to write applications, which use features of Skype across all the major platforms, through the use of Skype URIs. We believe this will allow developers to create innovative mobile, web and desktop solutions, while retaining a familiar and consistent Skype experience across devices.

Although we will continue to support the Desktop API for the rest of 2013, in September the App Directory will close, chat functionality through the API will stop working and we will begin notifying users with messaging in Skype for Desktop. As a result, we wanted to give you notice now so you have the opportunity to modify your application in response to these changes.

I want to personally thank you for your investment in Skype throughout the years. This decision was not made lightly. Going forward, we hope you will consider the use of URIs as a way of developing innovative Skype powered solutions. If you have any questions or comments about the changes, please contact us at skypedev@microsoft.com . We’ll do our best to address them in a timely fashion.

If you are interested in our previous Skype coverage, you can access the archives here.

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