Skype Suffers Another Embarrassing Crash

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Skype has crashed once again, leading to fresh questions over its reliability as a communication tool

Skype’s reliability as a communication tool for millions of users has been brought into question again, as the popular VoIP service experiences another widespread crash.

This latest outage began at approximately 11.30am BST, and according to reports left users unable to connect on Windows and Mac OS X-based machines, as well as smartphones. At the time of writing, the service was still not signing in.

This is now the second time that Skype has experienced a devastating outage in the past three weeks. On 26 May, Skype users around the world were also left unable to sign in and make calls.

That problem was solved by a small software update.

Configuration Problem

But Skype recognised it had a new problem on its hands on Tuesday when it tweeted that some people were experiencing connection difficulties. It said a small number of people were affected by a “configuration problem”.

“A small number of you may have problems signing in to Skype. We’re investigating the cause, and hope to have more details to share soon,” Tweeted Skype.

“We’ve identified the cause of the problem, and have begun to address it,” it then added.

Skype then went into great detail on its Heartbeat blog page, saying the situation was improving.

“We are continuing to address today’s problems, and are seeing indications that the situation is improving,” said Skype somewhat optimistically. “If you were disconnected from Skype earlier, you shouldn’t need to manually sign back in to Skype – it should reconnect automatically when it’s able to do so.

“We apologise for the disruption to your conversations.”

Other Outages

Skype of course is now owned by Microsoft, after Redmond acquired the VoIP provider for $8.5 billion (£5bn) in May. This followed rumours that Google and Facebook were also interested in buying the company.

But it is worth noting that Skype has experienced outages before. It suffered a major outage just before Christmas. That 30-hour outage was caused by a failure of Skype’s “supernodes” (clusters of computer servers linked by peer-to-peer networking software).

That outage prevented millions of Skype users from making contact with their loved ones over the Christmas break.

Growing Competition

Last week it also emerged that a Russian programmer had reverse-engineered Skype’s proprietary VoIP  protocols. In a subsequent interview, the programmer praised Skype as a good product with more “polish” than open source software could muster.

However this outage will no doubt lead to some questions over the reliability of Skype’s service.

Indeed, this latest crash comes at a difficult time for the VoIP provider, as it faces growing competition. Apple for example has just introduced its robust “iMessage” conversation platform (one that lets users carry a single conversation between their various iOS devices).

Of course, Apple also offers its users access to its FaceTime service.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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