The newest version of the Skype app takes a big hat-tip from social media platforms like Snapchat and Facebook’s Messenger with its newest features, adding a Stories-like feature called Highlights, a big selection of bots to add into chats, and a longer plan to upgrade group conversations with more features. Now, as part of the effort to get people to use new Skype more, the company is also doubling down something else: Skype is trying to get users off of older versions of Skype.
As part of that push, the Microsoft-owned company has sent out messages to users this week noting that it will be retiring a host of older iterations on July 1. Those who are still using the them after that day will likely no longer be able to sign on.
We at TechCrunch have had two versions of the notes, one listing apps for Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1, Messaging app for Windows 10 Mobile, Windows RT, and TV; and one more generic note. You can read them in full at the bottom of this post.
We’ve asked, and a spokesperson has supplied us with the full list of apps that have been and are getting axed, as well as platforms being affected — 14 in all, including several of Skype’s efforts to build apps with carriers and its own phones; its TV app; older versions of Windows (including Windows Phone), Android, BlackBerry, Mac and iOS:
- Android 4.0.2 and lower
- Blackberry OS 7.1 and lower
- iOS 7 and lower
- Linux (Linux users must upgrade to Skype for Linux Beta)
- Mac OS X 10.8 and lower
- Symbian OS
- Skype mobile for Verizon
- Skype on 3
- Skype on Telkomsel
- Skype on TV
- Skype phones: All Skype phones
Note: Skype phones may still be available to purchase through third party retailers, but are no longer supported
- Windows10 task-based app
- Windows Phone 8.1 and lower
- Windows RT
Note that this is something of a comprehensive list; some of these apps were discontinued quite a while ago, others a little more recently. However, it appears that if you had a device with one of these older apps installed, it would still work. Now, that no longer will be the case, it seems.
“Because we want everyone to experience the best Skype has to offer, it’s sometimes necessary to retire older versions of Skype, and Skype enabled devices,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. “Unsupported Skype-enabled devices, and platforms may experience problems with calls and chats, lost or dropped calls and instant messages, or could stop working completely.”
Skype, founded back in 2003, was a trailblazer for a subsequently huge onslaught of mobile apps that let people message and phone each other on mobile phones, bypassing carrier networks and their costly charges. Eventually, it was also one of the first of the disruptors that carriers started to work with, developing co-marketing plans and bundles to pick up more mobile subscriptions.
But the growing field of competition from the likes of WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, WeChat, Snapchat, Kik and more has produced an ever-crowded market. Skype’s features were leapfrogged, and the platform itself also became a hotbed for spam and contacts you might prefer not to have. So while Skype has a long and popular legacy, many have moved on from using it as their default messaging and phoning app of choice.
We asked, but Skype did not provide us with updated user numbers — let alone any data about what platforms they are using, and thus just how many people might get affected by this latest spate of spring cleaning.
What we do know is that Skype is regularly one of the most popular free apps on iOS and Android, and Skype itself tells us that there have been 2 trillion minutes of free Skype video calls since 2006, with 3 billion minutes of calls being made each day, and total Skype downloads now at over 1 billion.
A recent article in Wired about the new app update, featuring an interview with the Microsoft’s corporate VP of Skype Amritansh Raghav, notes 300 million users — a figure we’ve seen quoted elsewhere and appears to be from last year. As a point of comparison, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger each have 1.2 billion users.
The two notes follow below:
We’ve noticed that you are, or previously were, using an older version of Skype that will be permanently retired. As a result, after July 1, 2017, you will no longer be able to sign in to these older versions of Skype. Recently updated or started using Skype on another device? Great, you can ignore this email.
To keep talking with your family and friends, please update Skype to the latest version. It only takes a few minutes and all your contacts and conversations will be right there when you sign in.
If you are unable to update, check our support site to see if Skype still supports your device and operating system. If it is no longer supported, you can still stay in touch with friends and family using Skype on other devices. The latest versions of Skype for all supported devices are available at https://www.skype.com/download. You can sign in using the same Skype account.
We’ve noticed that you are, or previously were, using Skype on Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1, Messaging app for Windows 10 Mobile, Windows RT or a TV. We’re sorry to inform you that we will be permanently retiring these versions of Skype. As a result, after July 1, 2017, you will no longer be able to sign in to these versions of Skype.