A member of Skype staff posting in the Linux support forum there seems to have taken a course in customer relations from <insert your least favourite company here> if his responses to criticism of the lack of real world development of the Linux version of Skype, compared to Windows development, are anything to go by.
It all started when a fed-up Linux user posted a comment suggesting “sadly, today Skype for Linux finds itself behind the eight ball, still working on problems of reliability and functionality with basic hardware that has been around for years. Its playing catch up with consumer demands from 3 years ago while simultaneously trying to "pretend" that its developing next year's cutting edge requirements” which might be a little harsh, but I’m sure will have many nodding theirs heads sympathetically.
The immediate response from staff member ‘berkus’ (if ever there was an apt username) was a sarcastic “you must be one of those Skype managers… But the reality is, you are not. And your statements are very far from The Real Truth.”
Another user chirps in with an accusation that Skype treats its Linux-users like unloved stepchildren compared to Windows users, and warns that offending us with ignorance and arrogance will only make people give up on Skype.
Now you might think that this would bring out the customer relation side in Skype staff, eager to assure its users, its customers, its paying customers that Skype take Linux seriously and care about what people think. But berkus was quick to pour cold water on that hot concept with “ignorance and arrogance, big words for small kids. Look, it might stand righteous by your side to be offended and hurt, but this is not the class of emotions I personally be welcoming here.” Eventually, after a few more questions and less than favourable responses, the tactful staff member concluded with a flourish “I'm not listening to this bs anymore.”
Oh well, that’s OK then.
Thank goodness for another staff member, Ryan Hunt, who injected a little decorum into the thread, and more than a little honesty, by admitting “With 1.4 we're taking it back to basics so we can do it right - because that's what you deserve” and stating that “One of the features at the heart of 1.4 is the greatly improved audio quality and stability.” Ryan went on to reveal that Skype Management and Skype for Linux Management are not the same thing, there is a separate team which has tripled in size during the last year. He adds that the delay to the release of 1.4 was due to it being a ground up rewrite. Best of all, there is a promise that the foundations are being put in place for the long awaited Video support on Skype for Linux.
And that’s important, because the longer it exists without it, the further behind the Windows version it remains, the harder the closed development argument becomes to maintain in the face of open source alternatives pushing the envelope for Linux IM and VoIP.
All that said, Skype for Linux 1.4 certainly does appear to be a major step in the right direction. It is more stable, the sound quality is much better courtesy of support for both ALSA and OSS, and it’s a worthwhile download for sure. Available for Feisty Fawn (7.04), Fedora Core 6 and 7, Debian Etch, OpenSUSE 10+, Mepis, Mandriva and Xandros you can download it now here.