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As others are saying, the new Electron-based app is so bad on so many levels. Recently it has been failing to deliver incoming messages. They don't even appear, it just causes confusion to anyone trying to have a text conversation. Plus the lack of features that versions for other platforms have.

At this point it's just better to use web.skype.com on a browser tab. I find that more reliable than the Electron client.

And I'm just talking about the Linux version here. It's like if Skype had different bugs on each platform. Windows version also has its own glitches too.

* The classic, full version of Skype for Windows sometimes flips the order of a few messages, so that if you send two messages, the first one appears below the second one.

* The new UWP app seems to disconnect every time the window gets minimized. When the window is restored, for a few seconds I see all my contacts offline while it's trying to reconnect.

I couldn't agree more.

We've been using Skype for internal communication for a very long time. Back then it was the only option that worked on all the OSes we need (Linux, Windows, Mac), had all the features, and it just worked.

But the Electron app is just damn terrible. The message layout is super inefficient - it can display maybe half the messages compared to the native client. If you click somewhere, it un-expectecly moves you somewhere else. And it just stopped delivering new messages some time ago (I've tried to downgrade to 5.2, but that made no difference).

Interestingly enough, the web skype delivers messages just fine (it still sucks for all the other reasons).

And it also does not drain the battery that much. The devs apparently had the bright idea to render the messages window as canvas, and refresh it at 60hz no matter what. Because of emoticons. The web skype does that too, but if the tab is inactive Firefox suspends that.

The only thing that mostly works for me is the Android client. I wonder how they'll break that one.

In any case, we have lost all hope Skype will get better again. Also, there are other options nowadays.

For a while, I really enjoyed hangouts.. but the past 2 years, google has systematically removed or obscured features, and it's just a bit of a mess now. These days, for skype, I typically just use the web version, as it's "good enough" for my needs, but none of them are really great anymore.

I've worked in one office that had Skype (for business) properly integrated, and it was very nice. But, like so many other things, they couldn't just fix bugs, and make sure to keep it working on new OS versions.

What reliable alternatives would you suggest?

I would recommend Wire ( https://wire.com/en/ ). All mobile and desktop OS and web too. In my experience it's reliable and private and the company behind it is extremely open and supportive of its users.

I am not affiliated, I just like it.

This will sound crazy but with the Discord or Twitch App are rock solid, but they are gamer focus and also they are electron apps (I have mostly positive experience with electron apps myself, VS Code and RStudio).

I do like mumble and ran my own server for years, but client wise it is not as easy.

I use Discord for all sorts of things, not just games. What features do you find it's missing that would be useful?

The main complaints that I have seen are with video calling and screen-sharing.

These should be added soon™, though.

Ah, fair enough. That's what I've been using Hangouts for, and I don't think it'll change, but more competition is always welcome.

I was introduced to the Twitch app through some gaming friends and I was surprised at how solid it is. It's actually really good.

Did you try riot.im ?

That UI. I rather just use my IRC with Weechat on Freenode

You can choose from a whole catalog of alternative clients.

That very much depends on what are your requirements. If you need all the stuff skype supported originally - chat, voice, video, screen sharing etc. then I don't have a solution I'm afraid, particularly if you need support for various operating systems.

What we need for the internal communication (within the company) is a simple IM, integrated with ticketing system (a bunch of generic rooms, per-ticket rooms, linking from tickets, ...). We're pretty much set on using Mattermost for that, which has the advantage of being self-hosted.

For voice (typically group calls with other engineers) we'll probably stick with Skype for now (I the Android app on my phone for that). For meetings with customers we usually use a regular service with dial-in anyway.

We don't do video, and I don't think I've needed screen sharing in the last few years.

For voice I can highly recommend Mumble, it's trivially self-hosted too and feels well integrated on all platforms.

For video though your options are definitely more limited, keep an eye on Riot, I'm not sure that it's ready yet, but when it is it will present an extremely good option. If you only need mobile, Signal does it today and is probably one of the most stable and secure products around, can't vouch for the video quality though personally.

>If you need all the stuff skype supported originally - chat, voice, video, screen sharing etc. then I don't have a solution I'm afraid, particularly if you need support for various operating systems.

Google Hangouts.

My experience with Hangouts is that the screen resolution is incredibly low for a very long time, and it's super-laggy on big updates (switching virtual desktops, etc.). While appear.in is still somewhat laggy, and occasionally requires one or more participants to quit and re-join, its screen sharing is much better.

I've actually used hangouts at the previous company (so roughly 2012-2015 or so), and it worked fine I guess. I don't remember what were the reasons not to use it instead of Skype, but I'm sure there were some.

But I guess we don't really need the video calls that much (After all, who'd want to see video of engineers working mostly from home, right?) and the ability to self-host and integrate Mattermost with the issue tracker etc. is quite neat.

I have used and like Zoom, but it's not free.

I really like https://appear.in/

Web-based, supports notification, Slack integration, custom urls.

WebRTC is its main drawback, some browsers e.g. Safari don't seem to support it completely.

They announced support for WebRTC in Safari at WWDC this week

If you just want to talk, SIP via Asterisk (server) is OK. Most phones have built in support and there are apps (Jitsi) that works on most OS's. You can also connect it to land-line for calling those without Internet access.


I've had conference calls with Microsoft using Skype on Windows 10 on a Surface Book, and 3 Microsoft employees still haven't been able to get Skype to work.

I use Skype for Business and not only is it very poorly coded/architected, but the design paradigms actually make communication harder.

Actually I like it better than any alternative we have use so far (NIH InHouse solutions, NetMeeting, Sametime, WebEx).

When I worked there even people at Cisco hated WebEx.our team used hangouts instead.

For a while, I really loved hangouts... but Google has kind of dropped the ball, pulling out some of the integrated features (SMS, and Google Voice integration), and/or obfuscating those features. It used to be far easier to actually use for most of your communications. I also really preferred the integrated comms, so that I could keep hangouts and sms messages from a single contact together.

Totally agree.

That's probably Skype for Business, aka Lync though. Weren't they actually separate code bases?

If they are, it's still incredibly terrible. An enormous list of common glitches could be written about it, that just never get patched

For one, it tends to split group convos into random tabs at random intervals, black hole messages, crash randomly and silently and you don't notice until someone says you're offline(the window will still open! it's just hung), etc etc.

Clearly they must be using Lync or Skype to coordinate fixing them too -- just can't find the right tab to resume the conversations.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I missed a call today because I messaged my coworker and nobody answered. He told me he messaged and called me but I didn't receive anything. It worked yesterday.

That's a kind of a showstopper so I switched back to 4.3 hoping they'll fix it before the end of the month. I have a Windows VM with Skype installed but I'd rather start using something else with my customers.

Another annoying feature of the new Skype is that it has that modern/videogame look and feel which could be appropriate for casual chatting but not for business. Version 4.3 can be tweaked to look much like these HN pages: text with little space in between. Much more appropriate when copy pasting information and when scrolling back to read past calls.

And no history past 30 days.

And no search in history anyway.

And that useless unresizable black call window that eats up of half of the screen, thanks MS!

That they can mess up even text chat is unbelievable. These are problems in networking that have been solved for decades. An undergraduate should be capable of writing a text chat program with 100% accuracy. This is pathetic.

> An undergraduate should be capable of writing a text chat program with 100% accuracy

That maybe true, but I assure you that program will not scale to millions of messages. The reason so many companies "get it wrong" isnt because their developers are less skilled than graduates. Syncing M:N state at scale is hard.

Really? The Internet scaled effortlessly across the entire world because it was designed correctly. I'm not saying it's easy, but these problems have been solved.

I see you've never used slack ;)

Even Skype for Business on Windows is a hot mess.

Seriously, I love some of the things MS makes, but Skype has become one of those products that seems to survive on inertia instead of quality. Fortunately Google is also firmly intent on self-destructing on the subject of Chat as well, so it's crap all around.

Did the entire software industry get together and have a conference where they all agreed to screw up text messaging?

SfB 2016 is a lot better and is still a steaming pile.

The regular Skype client is completely unusable to me on Windows 7. It works ok on MacOS.

Due to instability and memory/race condition issues with the new sykpe app, I've been using Pidgin and the skypeweb plugin: https://github.com/EionRobb/skype4pidgin/tree/master/skypewe...

This works well for me since most of my skype traffic is chats, but I have to load the new skype app for calls.

Nitpick, I assume by "race condition" you mean "used lots of CPU". This is a common colloquial conflation, but race conditions [1] (which are not generally identifiable without aid of a debugger and the application's source code) and high CPU usage are unrelated concepts.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_condition

What are you going on about here? I have never once heard someone confuse "race condition" with "high CPU usage."

That's not a nitpick. These are entirely different things and calling high CPU usage a "race condition" is really confusing and misleading.

Do people actually do that? Where did that come from?

> Where did that come from?

Maybe because it makes your machine's fans sound like a race car?

Honestly this is the first I've heard of this usage as well.

And also, please can we refer to computers as hard drives. Especially desktops.

You're right. I didn't throw a debugger at it. It seems to randomly ramp up CPU load and stay high until I kill the process.

Do look up what a race condition is.

It's a subset of race conditions to be sure, but I think it's reasonable to look at a thread that gets stuck in a do-nothing loop while the app continues to run and guess it's probably the fault of buggy multithreading and bad luck on the timings.

> which are not generally identifiable without aid of a debugger and the application's source code

Random behavior is usually an indication that there may very likely be a race condition without needing the source code.

I've never heard of those two things being conflated.

> sometimes flips the order of a few messages, so that if you send two messages, the first one appears below the second one.

Turns out eventual consistency doesn't work well with chat apps.

The eventual consistency part of skype doesn't really cause problems. But how it screws up simple timestamping is quite another question.

The timestamp probably isn't to the MS, and/or there may be some drift on whichever server recorded the incoming message... it should be set to ms on the client, and only in the case of > 2s drift be adjusted on the server.

Your comment made me laugh, but this issue is very sad. How can a chat app that constantly flips messages in transit could pass any QI, for whatever low bar we set?

What I don't understand is what is so complicated. Chat apps aren't exactly rocket science (pretty much the opposite) and have been around since the 90s. Only the live video is more complicated but that doesn't seem to be the main problem with the linux app.

Maybe rather than being about difficulty, it has to do with patents? No idea, just a hunch.

You could start by defining "linux" app.

Linux is not really a thing. It's a mess of numerous operating systems. Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, redhat, slackware, all themselves available in different incompatible editions.

I pity developers who have to support desktop applications on linux.

Not exactly. The only things you need to handle are :

- An old enough glibc (glibc is backward compatible)

- static link as much as you can (I know this is against the unix way, but the only way to workaround most of the compatiblity issues). This is pretty much what macOS apps do by shipping .framework within .app.

Beside this, QT and GTK will pretty much always be available.

Way back in mid-2k (maybe late), Skype was about to release the core of the code for linux as a lib that could be linked to from 3rd-party chat apps. They nixed that at the last minute (after getting a lot of partner's hopes up) and instead we ended up with a shitty app for Linux instead an ok lib for Linux. I only heard about the lib as I was working for a company that was running the Skype hardware stores at the time.

They only need to do a part of the work. The other part is the repo maintainors job. These many distros also boil down to a few fundamental distros.

Leave it to Microsoft to fail this badly on something so fundamental. Microsoft need to stop innovating and focus maintaining and improve what works.

I just want to send and receive messages to my existing contacts.

In big companies doing the "mundane" things like solid incremental engineering is an irrational career strategy. Most product managers / careerists want to write the whiz bang new development rather than deal with the pain that is backwards compatibility, efficiency, multi platform support.

I miss the 80s when it was something that nerds did because of passion. Everyone wants to be a rock star developer now.

Seems like we are headed to a dark age of software.

> * The classic, full version of Skype for Windows sometimes flips the order of a few messages, so that if you send two messages, the first one appears below the second one.

This is most likely due to one computer's time being out of sync then re-syncing

I've used Skype on linux and found that their web version was bad, I have to refresh the page frequently to keep up to date. And the biggest disadvantage that I found was I can't make video call with other people, though I get clear audio. I found out when I was video calling for an interview who was using Windows 10, and the interviewer got mad because I can't provide a proper video call (Skype was the only option).

Thank you so much for pointing me to web.skype.com. I didn't know this existed and it solves so many problems for me.

That's still true with web.skype.com being down for 3 days ealier this year for me (wouldn't render in chrome.)

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