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New Skype for Web is live for Edge and Chrome browsers (theverge.com)
182 points by vaultcool on Mar 8, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 109 comments

What's even more ridiculous is that for Firefox, if you change the "User Agent" it works perfectly fine[0][1]. Since Opera is now a re-skinned Chromium, it's highly likely that from a technical point of view it should also work, if you change the UA. (No idea about Safari.)

It's either extreme laziness or deliberate monopolistic behaviour...

[0] https://old.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/apu2u6/the_bad_old...

[1] https://old.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/aw1umv/skype_web_i...

It's not ridiculous. It just means that they are not ready to provide regular long-term technical support for Firefox users yet, even if it technically works in the current version of Firefox.

The reason can be anything - lack of resources, ongoing work on edge cases, licensing issues, etc.

Back in Nov 2018, Dropbox went down this same lazy and inexcusable path, by programming their Linux client to shut down on any file system that was not Ext4.[1] I was using F2FS. Their excuse was that extended attributes support was critical to Dropbox, which is not a valid excuse since F2FS, XFS, ZFS, etc, all support extended attributes.[2] It would have been just a few lines of code to check if the user was running a filesystem that had extended attributes support. So presumably, they probably just didn't want to QA on multiple systems, so laziness won. I had to back up all my files, reformat my F2FS partition to Ext4, and restore my files, to get Dropbox working again. I've been a paying customer for 4+ years (at the $9.99/month level), and this is what I have to deal with.

Moreover, the Dropbox mobile apps and web UI still do not support editing plain text files (.txt / .md) -- even though they've added support for editing MS Doc (.doc / .docx) files. Compared to supporting editing MS Doc files, supporting plain text file editing would be so trivial for them to add, yet they haven't. I keep all my notes and thoughts in plain text files. When I don't have my Linux laptop, I'm forced to use Google Docs on my phone, even though I'd prefer to have all my notes/thoughts in my neatly organized collection text files.

Unfortunately, I don't know of any solid alternatives to Dropbox, that have reliable non-flaky support on Linux, and good iOS and Android apps.

[1] https://www.dropboxforum.com/t5/Error-messages/Dropbox-clien...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_file_attributes#Linux

iPhone Dropbox lets me edit txt files. I also had to reformat even though mine was ext4 but i was using ecryptfs which wasn’t supported.

Thanks for the note. They must have added .txt file editing support after I last tried editing one on their app.

For encryption, I'm using dm-crypt with LUKS on my root partition on Arch Linux: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dm-crypt/Encrypting_an_...

It works pretty well. I didn't have to mess with the underlying encrypted LUKS partition/volume in order to reformat.

Actually, Dropbox's Android app does let you edit text files. It was one of the main reasons I went with Dropbox.

This seems rather bizarre, as Microsoft apparently want people to move away from edge since they are working on a new chromium based browser.

I thought it is still going to be named Edge. Is that wrong?

Not wrong.

Same thing with AutoCAD Web and probably many more "Web apps". Enterprised devs have a duck syndrome, nothing new.

In Microsoft's defence, just because its functional, doesn't mean they're ready to spend time supporting it on other clients from day 1.

They may be planning a more gradual roll out to other clients once they have confidence with Chrome.

» We recommend that web developers avoid UA sniffing as much as possible; modern web platform features are nearly all detectable in easy ways. Over the past year, we’ve seen some UA-sniffing sites that have been updated to detect Microsoft Edge… only to provide it with a legacy IE11 code path. This is not the best approach, as Microsoft Edge matches ‘WebKit’ behaviors, not IE11 behaviors (any Edge-WebKit differences are bugs that we’re interested in fixing). In our experience Microsoft Edge runs best on the ‘WebKit’ code paths in these sites. Also, with the internet becoming available on a wider variety of devices, please assume unknown browsers are good – please don’t limit your site to working only on a small set of current known browsers. If you do this, your site will almost certainly break in the future.


Being a large company, I wouldn't expect every team there to have read that. Looks like the Skype Web didn't.

More likely someone said "We don't want to put effort into testing Firefox right now."

> More likely someone said "We don't want to put effort into testing Firefox right now."

The product teams should NOT have to test on Mozilla Firefox. We (disclaimer: I am not an Mozilla employee. Just someone who loves the web.) have a very robust Web Compat program https://github.com/webcompat/web-bugs/issues/27435

and Web Compat is very interested in helping product teams.

I think what the Edge team was trying to say above was detect feature support, not browser vendor. In fact, I would say there are many professionals at Microsoft willing to help the Skype team use feature detection properly. or there is always the Mozilla Developer Documentation https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Learn/Tools_and_tes...

Now that’s funny.

This smacks of the bad old days of the web, where UA checking was de rigour (usually to lock sites to IE).

And then, as now, the page usually functioned fine under alternatives with a masked UA.

"Warning: You browser is unsupported. You may experience issues. Continue?" is the only defensible roadblock.

This is why we have alpha's or beta's, such that you can "opt in" but be warned it may break. Simply not supporting a browser at launch is not a good look for your product.

Especially when it's a major product and you literally have thousands of engineers.

They can easily just display a warning that the site is not officially supported on X browser, and the user may run into unexpected errors. This is an active thing that Microsoft is doing, not something they're forced to do.

> In Microsoft's defence, just because its functional, doesn't mean they're ready to spend time supporting it on other clients from day 1.

It’s on the public web. It should work in all major browsers.


It does work for the majority (> 50%) of users. Is it enough ? No. Is it sufficient to be published ? Yes.

Basic functionality works fine on Safari as well. Just change the UA.

Not supporting Safari is weird, but not supporting Firefox is perfectly normal, given that it's at a whopping 4.46% of market share in the US.

"Not supporting" and "Deliberately blocking user agents" are two completely different things though.

They simply don't want to read any bug reports from Firefox users because they don't want to support that browser.

That is the most likely explanation. "It killed our precioussss IE, we hates it, we hates it!"

Firefox's market share is presumably comparable to safari on desktop, and edge which is supported.

For desktop, where one would use this, it is 8%

Whereas Edge has...oh wait. Yet there it is - supported.

It’s even weirder than that: it’s discontinued and supported.

I can’t find any source saying Firefox market share is below 8% in the US on desktop. Can you cite your stat.

StatCounter has Firefox at 7.63% in North America on Desktop. That puts it just behind Edge in usage too.


Specify just US as the thread is about that and it is back to 8%. Still behind Edge. Which isn’t surprising. http://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/desktop/unite...

It wouldn be interesting to see an evening, past work hours, US/Canada browser split. I would assume IE would tank vs being in 2nd. Edge would probably go down too though not as much.

What's even more ridiculous is that for Firefox, if you change the "User Agent" it works perfectly fine.

On your hardware, using your OS version, on the single internet connection you tried, in your language, with your set of installed plugins, using your particular browser settings, and trying the limited set of features that you used to test it.

That's practically the definition of "it works on my machine."

I imagine the Skype team have a somewhat more rigorous testing methodology.

I don't understand why so many people downvote this. He didn't say nothing wrong. "I opened in my browser" is not a proper testing, there are a lot might going on.

In recent year MS have showed itself in many good ways and I don't think that they will do such shady move without proper reason.

I would guess it's because it comes off as a bit snarky, and the same point could have been conveyed in a less patronizing way, but that's all completely subjective, so who really knows (besides, of course, The Shadow).

I've got to try harder if it was only a bit snarky. :)

I think all the people saying that Chrome will become the new IE 6 can feel vindicated. It's one thing if the browser manufacturer restricts their websites to it, but it's an entirely different thing if unrelated parties start doing it.

One of the many reasons why I switched back to Firefox, among extensions support on mobile.

We need an open competitor to push back, not align themselves with Google's interests.

I switched from Chrome to FF and it's been painless. Better privacy, no downsides.

Edge will start using WebKit... I mean Blink, so it's not an unrelated party anymore.

Edge is going to use Blink, same engine as Chrome. They are related.

We are not talking about simple websites here, but full fledged web applications. Note that Slack does exactly the same thing for non major browsers by blocking them out completely.

That was also the argument for why many things needed to be IE-only back in the day, since they needed ActiveX to be full on web applications.

Wow, I'm shocked to see they block browsers they haven't whitelisted, but it's right there in their docs: https://get.slack.help/hc/en-us/articles/115002037526-Minimu...

Considering that the web was supposed to be both open and decentralized I feel really sad that most of it is confined to just one proprietary browser.

It seems you have the option to use Firefox, and convince friends and family to do the same.

Personally I like it better for most things, so it’s not like I’m giving anything up and thus don’t feel bad recommending it to people.

I use Firefox myself. But look at this Skype for Web it doesn't work on Firefox. It seems to me companies are getting so lazy that they don't even make an effort to support anything other then Chrome.

Different teams, but Kenneth Auchenberg of Microsoft had quite a take earlier this year, when the Edge team announced the switch to Chromium.

I wouldn't rule out a general attitude of not caring about other browsers/engines for upcoming projects (in other words, returning to IE6-era behavior, but with the hand-wavy alibi of open source)


I remember saying it seemed like Microsoft doesn’t care who controls the web as long as the community doesn’t, everyone said that was ridiculous.

They should rename it Skype for Chrome.

who, in 2019, gives a single damn about skype ? It was murdered by Microsoft many years ago. let it rest in peace please.

I think it's still pretty common in business. I actually did a web-based interview for a Unicorn Silicon Valley startup over it. So there's that.

This isn't _the_ Skype though, it's the old lync with a new design. You _think_ you can just join a conference call with your normal skype app, but instead, you need to use their "web" app.

Using the term web app you might think that you can just point your browser at the URL and join, however, they've opted to make you download something where the actual conference takes place.

Interviews do mostly use the real Skype, not Skype for Business.

Clearly you don't listen to NPR News. Basically everyone not in a public radio studio is talking on Skype and they say so.

If they constantly say they are using Skype it's because they are being paid to say so, not because they are actually using Skype (which they could be, of course).

They say they're using Skype because the Skype Broadcast Terms of Service require them to say it: https://www.skype.com/en/legal/broadcast/

It could also be that "Skype" has become the generic catch-all term for video chatting on desktop, since it rolls off the tongue way easier than "video call."

Obviously a lot of people give a damn about the most reliable service for voice calls. WhatsApp calls are still unreliable, Google hangouts is semi-decent.

As for public usage, if you watch YouTube, Derek from Veritasium always uses Skype to call scientists.

I use it every day with my remote co-workers.

Still better than web based solutions like Google Meet, Appear, Slack, etc. Specially for group calls and screen sharing.

Have you tried zoom? It works well for the video conferencing, screen sharing and chat (to send links that are annoying to read out aloud and retype).

No, the free version only allows 40 mins group calls.


40 minutes at a time is enough to test it and if it works much better than skype it might be worth the money. Also video calls between two parties are unlimited and what I need most of the time.

Well, Skype works quite well nowadays, it's one of the most reliable voice services I use and the best part, it doesn't need a binary, it works out-of-the-box through the webpage.

I use it all day every day. They are definitely doing a terrible job with it, but just based on the fact of all my contacts having it (work and personal), it's the best thing to use.

What are viable web-based alternatives to Skype ? (Except for Hangouts)

I like https://appear.in for video chats with friends and family, in fact their "room"-based approach works much better there IMHO than the "call"-based approach from Skype. But appear.in is absolutely not a full Skype replacement, if you are looking for contact lists and presence and chat functionality (you can chat in an appear.in room, but it is made for video) and/or the possibility to call phone lines.

I use https://meet.jit.si

I've never had a Skype account, since it required installing proprietary software, and then it became Microsoft which put me off it even more. I've also not used Google Hangouts, since I've heard that doing so would break the XMPP functionality of my Google Account (not sure how up-to-date this info is).

Anecdotally, I've been on Skype calls between friends (as in, connecting two rooms of people), and it seemed really laggy and low quality (this was post-Microsoft, which I hear changed the architecture from fast P2P to slow centralised, presumably for surveillance purposes).

Once it kept cutting out and I recommended trying meet.jit.si; that didn't cut out and had much better quality video. Tangentially: people were initially reluctant to try it, since they didn't want to bother signing up to a different service; implying some general assumption that all Web sites or P2P networks (a) require an "account" of some sort and (b) "accounts" must be distinct and not reusable. What a sorry state of affairs :(

That said, I've also had calls on meet.jit.si which were laggy until we turned off the video. So neither is perfect!

Depends on how you use Skype, but I have used both https://appear.in/ and Zoom (there is a web version!) successfully.

Think you would have to define your use case slightly more.

jitsi meet works really well.

Is jitsi any good?

It is, as long as you don't need to do anything else on your computer at the same time. It's an absolute resource hog.

Yes. I use it almost exclusively.

With a browser plugin you can even share your screen and there is a self hosted version, too.

On Firefox, no plugin is needed for screen sharing. I wonder why one is needed in Chrome.

Maybe related: If you look at the skype uservoice page[1], one of the most requested features are people asking to be able to delete their account.

[1]: https://skype.uservoice.com/forums/914527-welcome-to-skype-i...

that's probably more towards Microsoft forcing you to combine your outlook and Skype accounts and not having them separate

Still waiting for “Skype for email,” wherein notifications of new messages would be delivered through something else than Skype, namely email.

You mean Skype for business? It does exactly this (well with a "slight" delay but still :)).

Isn't that just e-mail?

If email was what my interlocutors used then sure. You need two people for this dance, y'know.

At least on macOS, Skype issues notifications on messages, and I think these notifications are programmatically accessible. I don't know if the analogous statement on Windows is true. Isn't it possible to just write a daemon to listen for the relevant notifications and then e-mail you?

IIRC that can even be done in Linux, but the main source of my lamentation in the first place is that I can't just close the app and forget about it, because of an occasional message in a couple months.

(Though, now that I think of it, Skype API on the desktop was there before version 8―and since they've broken the app quite thoroughly in version 8, I'd be surprised if the API survived.)

Similarly 'wtf mate' is that Google Hangouts was working fine in Firefox for a while, not at all in Safari… and now it is reversed.

Very excited to see this released because it makes use of ReactXP (https://microsoft.github.io/reactxp/) which is IMO currently the best way to make native cross platform apps.

Browser wars are back? What happened, the app store wars went over budget?

Welp. "Made For IE6," long time no see.

Just tried from my Chromebook

"Device not supported"

Do Teams and Skype work on same stack in the background ? Why not merge them both and provide a singular interface ?

I believe Teams is the old Microsoft Messenger with a Skype-like skin

Did someone still use Skype?

Some people do.

They may not have a need for slack, they may also disagree with the inconsistent banning of users and servers on discord (if you are in a “wrong think” server at the time of its deletion there is a chance that your account gets nuked along with the server even if you are not active in the server. While other server that have been patently breaking TOS have been given given a pass by one or two on the safety team), they may of used Skype “back in the day” and just stuck with it and there are those of us who have to use Skype because that’s what our clients like to use.

But yeah there are still tons of people who who Skype.

We use Skype for Business at my work. I'm not really sure what the difference is between that and regular Skype. I know Skype for Business is just a re-skinned MS Lync, which in turn is just a re-skinned MS Communicator from back in the day. It's a pretty terrible chat client but it's what everyone is used to using here.

Skype for Business is very different from Skype. The business version, at least for online customers is also being deprecated in favor of Teams. --No clue if/when that will happen if you use the on-premises version.

Working as a consultant with big corp clients I use it nearly daily. It is an integral part of communications in lots of bigger companies. And if you're working with them you are stuck with it.

It still forces itself to start up on my Windows machine, despite the fact I'm logged out and have tried a LOT of times to uninstall it - registry edits, administrator mode powershell commands, etc. Next up I'll probably have to try installing one of those dodgy uninstaller programs.

If anyone from Microsoft is reading this, please fix this! I'm not using Skype on my personal machine at the moment and I would like it to not start up when I fire up my computer.

and what else should we use? Other IMs want phone registration, have questionable privacy, constantly change....

We do. It seems to work better than other solutions for group calls and screen sharing.

On Chromium, Skype loads but clicking "Join call" does nothing.

That's because they deliberately block Chromium by scanning navigator.plugins for anything with Chromium in it.

Does that mean that it will work with the newest Edge based on Chrome? Hmmm... the entire switch to Edge might actually benefit Microsoft

Skype is a Microsoft product so it definitely works on Edge regardless.

There was a very active theory on HN that stated, Microsoft did switch to Chrome just for the V8 Features especially regarding Desktop-Apps and web rtc. The next new thing will probably be Skype (for business) to switch to electron.

You do know that Microsoft makes Skype?

Microsoft didn't make Skype, they bought it and have been slowly grinding it into dust ever since. It's nothing like it used to be.

But they do make it, present tense.

True. I prefer to look at them as janitors, and not good ones either. They seem to be un-making it by removing more features than they've added.

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