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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. (s msft) 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 [email protected] . 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.

11 Responses to “Skype says it will kill its Desktop API by end of 2013”

  1. Nicolas Brunner

    I threw this up on the forums, I doubt anything will ever come of it of course.

    Hey Skype. I’ve been a user of your products (with a subscription) since the very beginning. I use it everyday, I promote your service to all my friends, family, co-workers and random strangers. I am a fan.

    But there are two things you could do to COMPLETELY LOSE MY BUSINESS and forever make me switch to another service (which there are plenty). Oh guess what, you’ve already done the first one.

    Item 1) Skype Toolbar for MS Office – DISCONTINUED.
    I probably do not need to tell you how rediculious this is. Using Click-to-Call from Excel (an awesome feature) or Outlook (even more awesome) gives Skype users some serious efficiency. You stopped releasing this probably because it was too hard to support given that you needed to code an x64 plugin… (seriously, it wouldn’t have been that hard, the old version still works fine on 32-bit installs).
    So … Strike one I guess. I am still hoping you get this resolved.

    Item 2) Desktop API – DISCONTINUED as of Jan 1, 2014.
    Are you serious? Why would this even cause you any problems to leave in the code base? Are you trying to be Google and discontinue things that you see as “fun, useful and important to many people but doesn’t give me money directly?” (ie. Google Reader) Listen, the WHOLE REASON I use Skype for business with my business headsets (Plantronics Blackwire C610 mono at the office, Plantronics Savi W720 here at my home office) is because I get the power of a desk phone using your service.

    If I can’t control the mute from my headset, you’ve basically tethered me to my desk, which is a situation I can’t live with. So I’ll find another one.

    Please reconsider this discontinuation. I understand you need to make trade offs, but there has to be other places you can look. This is important to many business users like myself.

  2. Lance Cole

    Ok, coming to this discussion WAY TOO LATE, it seems, but I JUST FOUND OUT about MS’s move on Skype (relative to the API discontinuance). Now, I have a question I can’t find an answer to, and wondered if ANYONE can lay it out for me, a non-programmer. I am a mechanical engineer and USER, not a programmer. I love the video and general call nature of Skype, I hate to try and find another system that can work as well as a ‘local call’ in another country via VOIP like Skype. WHAT DOES THIS ACTION BY MS MEAN TO ME, the lowly user? Are they pulling it completely off PC’s? Is this just a desktop app kill where they will give me something else back? Am I going to be told to ‘buy a VOIP phone if I want to keep using it after Jan 1 2014? I currently have the app installed on my home media server PC, and my various laptops, and pay to use it as my ‘main phone’ (other than my cell). I DON’T use my cell with it, and don’t want to.

    Where does what they are doing to the API, leave me with what I want as a paying customer? I mean, I guess I could just call them and talk to them like THEY were stupid, and we could discuss section modulus of I-beams, and how to calculate load bearing supports for cantilever structures to make me feel better, but I doubt that MS really cares – they forget to make money from paying USERS, and too often just drive over the programmers too, all for the sake of power-player stock holders, it seems. Why, it’s almost like they felt Vista was a beaming success, or something. (or maybe Win98)…

  3. Richard Lincoln

    “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.”

    What a bunch of bologna. This has nothing to do with improving “overall Skype Experience” and has everything to do with Microsoft forcing people to use their shitty client.

  4. Skype screwed over a ton of developers who believed their promises over the years to allow product development. Very bad Karma Skype. We’ve all lost a lot of faith in you. MS is really good at stripping the creativity and genius from companies they eat up. This is yet another example. Several of us basically laid out an easy path for Skype to do Google Hangout’s type systems with add-ons. And we were never listened to. Such arrogance and close mindedness. Opening up Skype for others to tinker with was a brilliant direction. Smashed down by nickel and dime shareholders who couldn’t have the decency to support the people who helped bring them the user base they have now.

    For those of us who have developed with Skype:
    So long and thanks for all the fish, so sad that it should come to this. We tried to warn you but you didn’t listen.

  5. OM, look on the Skype shop for Navoto GSM gateway for Skype, no company ever invest on the Skype ecosystem like this product did… best hardware product ever built for Skype.

  6. there is no technical barriers when online talk app instead of the traditional 2G 3G phones,the only obstacle is the distribution of benefits between Microsoft and isp.I like the app, it is the development trend of information technology.

    • Fernando Gabriel Gregoire

      If I’d concerned about those US controls, I should to stop using Facebook, Gmail, MS SkyDrive… In a few words, I should to dissapear from the Internet.