Skype, Get Your Shit Together

Skype is part of TechCrunch’s newsroom workflow. It’s the standard way that individual authors converse, share, collaborate and the like. We use other software to work as a team, but for one-on-one chats, Skype is our jam.

The downside is that it just doesn’t work very well. It’s become a running joke in the office: Skype’d it to you — So, you’ll get it tomorrow?

What is wrong with Skype? It can’t sync messages properly across devices, so god forbid if you use Skype on a Mac at work and a PC at home. File transfer remains ungodly slow. Messages often do not show up for some time on the machines of recipients, leading to confusion and, occasionally, bruised egos. And then there are Skype group chats that some of us can’t get into until the next day.

To quote my colleague Ryan Lawler, Skype “had one job!” — messaging — and it “can’t even do that right.”

And instead of getting better, it’s getting worse. At least in our office. A sampling of our public conversations about Skype:

And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on.

I reached out to Microsoft about message federation, the ability to join groups, and general reliability. The company pointed TechCrunch to public resources on how to ensure that a Skype call has the best chance of success.

I asked TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha to describe how annoying it is when your Skype room fails to allow certain members of the group to actually get into the damn thing:

You know what’s awesome? Creating a Skype room so that a group of TechCrunch writers can work together — and then being told by one or more writers that they “can’t see it.” So you sit there and wonder: What? Why? Should it really be this hard to create a group?

But hey, you’re trying to cover a big, breaking news story, so you can only wonder for a few seconds. Then you just shrug, try to keep everyone clued in about what’s happening in the room, and hope that a crucial piece of information doesn’t get dropped while you’re playing telephone.

A R G H.

Microsoft purchased Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011. It’s 2015, and Skype remains a tenuous experience. For a tool that is so globally liked, and used, it’s an odd situation. Microsoft recently doubled down on the Skype brand, moving its enterprise chat service under the “Skype for Business” moniker. Given the issues that consumer Skype has, you almost wonder about the efficacy of the choice.