Skype Cracks-Down on Reverse-Engineering

With the acquisition final, Microsoft’s Skype Division has set its sites on reverse-engineers, issuing multiple DMCA takedowns to those publishing their own code. From the article:

Skype issued a second DMCA copyright notice after this researcher published more Skype related code. Those files have since moved to being hosted elsewhere. Skype is claiming copyright on the code even though the open-source code was written by the researcher. Another DMCA takedown attempt regarding the same work was issued again in early August when the researcher tried doing a DMCA counter-notice, and he ended up putting up links again to this “copyrighted” work.

If only there was a viable, open and multi-platform alternative to Skype. Maybe Skype’s latest actions will help spur an alternative sooner rather than later.

Microsoft Finalizes Skype Acquisition

Five-months after first being announced, Microsoft closed its acquisition of Skype for $8.5 billion. A couple of interesting points from the Press Release:

Skype CEO Tony Bates will assume the title of president of the Skype Division of Microsoft immediately, reporting directly to Ballmer.


The acquisition remains under review in a few countries, and will be completed in those countries when such reviews are closed.

I can only hope Skype’s new owner puts the breaks on ads playing while on a call. The ad bar at the bottom doesn’t bother me on the iPad, but if my call is interrupted mid-way with an in-call audio/video ad, I will be forced to retire my Skype account.

Microsoft Patents Eavesdropping On VoIP Conversations

According to an article on TheTelecomBlog, Microsoft has patented a technology titled ‘Legal Intercept’ that would allow them to eavesdrop on VoIP conversations. From the article:

The technology would allow Microsoft to silently record communications on VoIP networks such as Skype. While some believe it’s no reason to panic, others believe it gives Microsoft or government officials a license to secretly intercept, monitor and record Skype calls while they are doing the unmentionable.

Although the patent was filed before Microsoft acquired Skype, it does explicitly name them in an example.

As for use cases:

Microsoft says that ‘Legal Intercept’ can be used by the US government or “one of its agencies”. If further mentions that this technology would require obtaining “appropriate legal permission”, which might not be that difficult for a government to acquire.

I wasn’t shocked by who may use the technology, but I am concerned if this technology is circumvented for illegal or nefarious purposes.

Microsoft Acquires Skype For $8.5 Billion in Cash

It’s official, Microsoft will acquire Skype for $8.5 billion in cash.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The deal allows Microsoft to integrate Skype’s free and low-cost Internet-based video and telephony services into everything from its Bing search engine to Windows smartphones and its Xbox videogame system. The need to add a communications component is seen as crucial with the growing popularity of Apple Inc.’s Facetime video-chat service and Google Inc.’s Voice.

Is FaceTime really that popular? Although I have it on my iPad and Mac, I always default to Skype for it’s cross-platform support. My only real concern is continued support for non-Microsoft platforms like Linux, Mac, Android and iOS. We use Skype every week for our Unsigned podcast because of its cross-platform support. If this goes away, I will be forced to look for alternatives.

From Microsoft’s press release:

Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms

How well they continue to support non-Microsoft platforms is the question I need answered. I feel that Macs are treated as second-class citizens from Skype today, so can it get any worse? We’ll have to wait and see how this deal turns out.