Todo List: 5 Ways Microsoft Can Take Skype To The Next Level

Whilst I was on a hiatus for the last year on Twitter, my use of Skype increased dramatically.

I use Skype for team communication for uQast, direct customer support & 1-on-1 training, large group chats with my SEO friends from the SEO Dojo, and to keep in contact with friends & family.

With uQast we are also moving towards using a Skype based virtual PBX and Live Chat for a large proportion of our pre-sales communication.

Officially announced, what had previously been confirmed that Microsoft is buying Skype for $8.5B – significantly more than the valuation when Ebay sold a large chunk to investors whilst releasing its grip in preparation for a possible IPO.

So I thought I would take this opportunity to mention directions I would like to see Microsoft take the platform in the future, rather than speculate on how they will ever make a return on their investment.

Open Platform

Microsoft – please make Skype more open – other IM clients talk to each other – actually… do the same with Live Messenger as well.

Support XMPP / Jabber – forge open standards for other forms of communication

This page of clients that support XMPP actually asks “See Something Missing?”

Sure do… Live Messenger & Skype.

If you chat over XMPP feel free to nag people in some way to “upgrade” to a more secure or flexible client… if that is the case.

Some of the things we want to do with Skype we currently can’t because custom development costs would be to prohibitive, so many of our staff may end up using Google Talk or another XMPP supporting client, and client records may end up fragmented.

Screen Sharing – One To Many

I know that the big push has been for video chat to support more users, but adhoc screen sharing to multiple users on an audio conference is much more useful.

That being said I am not saying that is something I want to pay for – for large pre-arranged webinars you can use a dedicated service.

Conversation History & Search

Skype search is terrible – a conversation between Joe Bloggs and Andy Beard is different to a conversation between Andy Beard & Joe Bloggs, and you can only search within a single conversation history at a time.

I typically have updates in 10-20 conversations every day, across 2 Skype accounts and finding a reference someone made in one of them, even if you remember who made the reference is like finding a needle in a haystack.

There also needs to be significant improvement in the way historical conversations can be migrated between multiple desktops and mobile devices – some current conversations do get populated over time, but it is a very hit and miss affair. I want to be able to access 6 or 7 years of history which took place on multiple PCs.

Online Business Integration

This can come in a number of ways

  • Click to Call
  • Live Support
  • CRM Integration

I can certainly see Microsoft buying an outfit like Invox or IfByPhone in the near future

If small business owners have to get in the habit of having Skype always on, because that is the direction their leads come from, there is without doubt a way to monetize that with advanced features, and Skype Out will also become more prevalent.

System Hog

On my windows laptop I used to deliberately run older versions of the Skype client and switch the extras off because I found the resources it used only surpassed by Firefox among applications I needed to have “always on”.

These days I am running 2 copies of Skype side-by-side using the /secondary option you can set by the command line, and my 64 bit Windows 7 desktop system can cope with that comfortably… but that doesn’t mean the client isn’t a system hog.

Always on applications such as IM clients need to be more streamlined.

I’m Sure You Have Your Own Bugbears

These are just a few things that affect me on a daily basis – what would you like improved on Skype?

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  1. TrafficColeman says

    Its true that Skype can use some changes, but over all for something that’s works pretty well if you ask me.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  2. Jake says

    I just had a cynical chuckle at your first “to do”, Open Platform. Er, hello. This is MS we’re talking about here. Seems the least likely development to me.

    Improving call stability, especially in multi-way conference calls involving several countries would be my number 1 request.

    My 10p worth!


  3. says

    Microsoft is buying Skype? Well that wish list of yours is nice but Microsoft doesn’t listen to customers. I doubt if they even have a plan for Skype. They are probably purchasing it because Google is moving into telecom (Google Voice).

    They have the resources to make it a great service, but I’ll believe it when I see it…

    Great list though.

  4. says

    I have been using Skype on both Widows and Linux. I have to say that the Linux version of Skype was not updated in probably over a year, it’s impossible to use Skype on my Linux machine with a camera. If they don’t do some of the things you mentioned, many might flee to GTalk- which I must say works better on Linux.

  5. says

    I am totally agree with you. Skype is a really good way to interact with your client which are abroad. It’s less expensive than the phone and you have more option that with the phone.

    But sometimes, if your clients have a bad internet connection, the discussion can be change in an awful thing. Before to call someone be sure that he have a good internet connection

  6. says

    Skype has been easy to use for me. i have been in contact with family in israel as well as business associates in Russia.

    With the Microsoft takeover, i wonder how the changes will affect people globally. Will they start to charge for this service (need to make up the $8 billion they spent some how).

    I hope that Microsoft just bought Skype with the hope of launchin all PC’s with Skype preinstalled, not with the plans to start changing and charging for it.

    just my opinion :)

  7. says

    Nice ideas Andy, your obviously quite a power user of Skype!

    This acquisition scares me slightly; I really hope Microsoft take advantage of their purchase in a sensible way. I am fearful they will try to re-skin Skype and build the technology into the Live Messenger interface.

    In the UK Skype is used but not as much as it should be by businesses. I have always loved the idea of not needing a desk phone when I arrive in someone’s office. Simply plug my wireless headset into my laptop and I’m ready to go.

    Although I have found that Skype voice packets can sometimes not be prioritised enough over internet connections, so I always ensure I am using an encrypted SSL VPN connection and it seems to improve the call quality. If this is a similar concern for others, I hope Microsoft makes plans to solve it.

    I have also heard of shared office spaces trying to ban the use of Skype over their network due to wanting people to use their expensive telephone service that comes bundled with the office space, so some form of solution to this would be good.

    I’ve not found Skype too much of a hog, but it does hang sometimes when I am multitasking to the max. So these problems would be good to fix.

    I would also like better contact management, the contact setup is very confusing to use. I sometimes find when I add additional telephone numbers to a contact the number somehow gets lost or overwrites the first one.

  8. says

    When I saw this deal going through I started to get really nervous. As a dedicated Apple user, I pretty much hate all things Microsoft anyway, but I actually use Skype for work related conversations, just as you do. One thing that has really gotten on my nerves recently is with the new version of Skype I was having trouble with the available symbol. I was online, but it kept showing I was idle or offline. Little bugs never seem to get fixed as this is still a problem.

    Other than that, I do appreciate the video chats and screen sharing. I use Adium and iChat to talk to friends and family with AIM and use iChat’s built in screen sharing, although that is limited to people with Macs so the Skype one is better in that regard.

    I hope that some of your suggestions are taken into account as Skype could definitely use some help.

  9. says

    I agree with your point relating to Skype history and search history. After managing several contacts, chats and conversations especially from new inbound users, I quickly find that I lose track of the people I have been in discussion with and have difficulties managing and storing my communications with people.

  10. says

    Open platform for a Microsoft owned product now that is funny :). It would be really cool for them to incorporate all other messengers sort of like Trillian does. It would be a relief for someone like me who owns their own web design company not to open 5 or 6 applications at a time for support. It would be really cool if the developed it further and made more extras :).

    Nathan Marcarelli

  11. says

    I have a nasty feeling that this is going to kill things for Linux Skype use. I also expect that anything good will be pay for only with a fat EULA…

  12. says

    Honestly, I have mixed feelings about the passage of Skype under Microsoft’s wings. I’m not a big fan of the brand, as I’m more open-source oriented, but if they are going to extend Skype’s usage for everybody’s good, then the switch will be positive. :) I especially hope to see Skype supporting the XMPP protocol too.

    On another note (off-topic), your link is back up on my Blogroll. Because of my previous host abandoning her servers and clients, I had lost all of my contents, and re-installing everything took me a longer time than I expected. That was the only reason for to be gone. I’m sorry about that.

    ~ Luana S.

  13. says

    I have been using Skype for ages, both for my friends and with business associates. And with Microsoft plans to do a buyout, I hope they will be implementing more points to make Skype at the top of the list. And Please, I hope they have them make a version that has less bugs. For one thing Skype’s 5.3 version has many issues, still, their site has the nerve to tell clients to get the latest “version”. Currently, I downgraded to a 5.0 to lessen problems (I can’t add friends, which is a known issue). Stabilizing Skype’s already popular interface and cross-platform integration will be a very big plus.

  14. says

    We will probably get new and expanded features for Skype, but Microsoft’s track record on decreasing an applications resource hogging is not very promising. Performance has just never been their strong point.

  15. says

    I think Microsoft just bought Skype to reduce their competitors. They will take Skype to the next level, at the same time, killing it in a subtle manner. Sooner or later, they will clone all Skype’s features and implement it in their very own Windows Live Messenger. Eventually, they will bury Skype into the dead pool, just like what Yahoo did with MyBlogLog.

    If they can buy Google, they will, but they can’t.

    Just my two cents… :)

  16. says

    I have been using Skype on both Widows and Linux. I have to say that the Linux version of Skype was not updated in probably over a year, it’s impossible to use Skype on my Linux machine with a camera. If they don’t do some of the things you mentioned, many might flee to GTalk- which I must say works better on Linux.
    I’ ve always love Skype, it has helped me a lot when I need to communicate with my clients.

  17. says

    Silver Lake (previous owner of Skype) must have seen a good profit at the end or must have done something that diminished Skype’s value and/or future… otherwise they must be crazy to sell Skype to a competitor… as you may know Silver Lake owns Avaya and Avaya & MS do not get along well…