Some network administrators have banned Skype on corporate, government, home and education networks, citing reasons such as inappropriate usage of resources, excessive bandwidth usage, and security concerns.
In June 2005, Skype entered into an agreement with the Polish web portal Onet.pl. On 12 September 2007, eBay Inc. agreed to acquire Luxembourg-based Skype Technologies SA for approximately US$2.5 billion in up-front cash and eBay stock, plus potential performance-based consideration.
On 1 September 2009, it was announced that eBay was selling 65% of Skype to Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for US$1.9 billion, valuing Skype at US$2.75 billion.
Microsoft phased out its long-standing Windows Live Messenger instant messaging service in favour of Skype, although Messenger continues in mainland China. Microsoft began this transition on 8 April 2013, and completed the move by 30 April.
Registered users of Skype are identified by a unique Skype Name, and may be listed in the Skype directory. Skype allows these registered users to communicate through both instant messaging and voice chat. Voice chat allows telephone calls between pairs of users and conference calling, and uses a proprietary audio codec. Skype's text chat client allows group chats, emoticons, storing chat history and editing of previous messages. Offline messages were implemented in a beta of version 5, but removed after a few weeks without notification. The usual features familiar to instant messaging users — user profiles, online status indicators, and so on — are also included.
Skype supports conference calls up to 25 people at a time. Skype also supports video chat between two people for free. Screen sharing and group video calling is available for Premium subscribers between a maximum of 10 people.
In January 2011, after the release of video calling on the Skype client for iPhone, Skype reached a record 27 million simultaneous online users. This record was broken with 29 million simultaneous online users on 21 February 2011, and again on 28 March 2011 with 30 million online users. On 25 February 2012, Skype announced that it has over 32 million users for the first time ever. As of 5 March 2012, it has broken to 36 million simultaneous online users  and less than a year later, on 21 January 2013, Skype had more than 50 million concurrent users online. In June 2012, Skype had surpassed 70 million downloads on an Android Device.
On 19 July 2012, Microsoft announced that Skype users had logged 115 billion minutes of calls over the quarter, up 50% since the last quarter.
On 29 October 2007, Skype launched its own mobile phone under the brand name 3 Skypephone, which runs a BREW OS.
Skype also offers a Skype Wi-Fi Phone, which is a wireless mobile phone that allows users to make Skype calls, using a wireless Internet connection. The Skype Wi-Fi Phone has an on-screen menu that lets Skype users see who is online and available to talk, similar to what is seen on a PC. It can also be used to talk with non-Skype users. SkypeOut minutes can be used to call any phone for a low price and no monthly fee. The Skype Wi-Fi phone does not contain a web browser and so can not access hotspots that require web-based login or authentication.
The PlayStation Portable Slim and Lite series, though the user needs to purchase a specially designed microphone peripheral. The PSP-3000 has a built in microphone, which allows communication without the Skype peripheral. The PSP Go has the ability to use Bluetooth connections with the Skype application, in addition to its built-in microphone. Skype for PlayStation Vita may be downloaded via the PlayStation Network in the U.S. It includes the capability to receive incoming calls with the application running in the background.
Samsung Smart TV has a Skype app which can be downloaded for free. It uses the built in camera and microphone for the newer models. Alternatively a separate mountable Skype camera with built in speakers and microphones is available to purchase for older models.
Some devices are made to work with Skype by talking to a desktop Skype client or by embedding Skype software into the device. These are usually either tethered to a PC, or have a built-in Wi-Fi client to allow calling from Wi-Fi hotspots like the Netgear SPH101 Skype Wi-Fi Phone, the SMC WSKP100 Skype Wi-Fi Phone, the Belkin F1PP000GN-SK Wi-Fi Skype Phone, the Panasonic KX-WP1050 Wi-Fi Phone for Skype Executive Travel Set, the IPEVO So-20 Wi-Fi Phone for Skype and the Linksys CIT200 Wi-Fi Phone.
Third-party developers, such as Truphone, Nimbuzz and Fring, previously allowed Skype to run in parallel with several other competing VoIP/IM networks (Truphone and Nimbuzz provide TruphoneOut and NimbuzzOut as a competing paid service) in any Symbian or Java environment. Nimbuzz made Skype available to BlackBerry users and Fring provided mobile video calling over Skype as well as support for the Android platform. Skype disabled Fring users from accessing Skype in July 2010. Nimbuzz discontinued support on request of Skype in October 2010.
Before and during the Microsoft acquisition, Skype withdrew licensing from several third parties producing software and hardware compatible with Skype. The Skype for Asterisk product from Digium was withdrawn as "no longer available for sale". The Senao SN358+ long-range (10–15 km) cordless phone were discontinued due to loss of licenses to participate in the Skype network as peers. In combination these two products made it possible to create roaming cordless mesh networks with robust handoff.
Skype uses a proprietary Internet telephony (VoIP) network called the Skype protocol. The protocol has not been made publicly available by Skype and official applications using the protocol are closed-source. Part of the Skype technology relies on the Global Index P2P protocol belonging to the Joltid Ltd. corporation. The main difference between Skype and standard VoIP clients is that Skype operates on a peer-to-peer model (originally based on the Kazaa software), rather than the more usual client–server model (note that the very popular SIP model of VoIP is also peer-to-peer, but implementation generally requires registration with a server, as does Skype).
As far as networking stack support is concerned, Skype only supports the IPv4 protocol. It lacks support for the next generation Internet protocol, IPv6.
Protocol detection and control
Many networking and security companies claim to detect and control Skype's protocol for enterprise and carrier applications. While the specific detection methods used by these companies are often private, Pearson's chi-squared test and Naive Bayes classification are two approaches that were published in 2008. Combining statistical measurements of payload properties (such as byte frequencies and initial byte sequences) as well as flow properties (like packet sizes and packet directions) has also shown to be an effective method for identifying Skype's TCP- and UDP-based protocols.
G.729 and SVOPC. Skype added a Skype-created codec called SILK to Skype 4.0 for Windows and other Skype clients. SILK is intended to be "lightweight and embeddable".
Features removed: Removed PC speaker ring support. Not officially announced.
10 March 2010
8 April 2010
27 April 2010
10 May 2010
20 May 2010
Skype crashed with some web-cameras when video calling, for example with Microsoft Lifecam Show and HP Elite Autofocus web-cam.
6 September 2010
14 October 2010
Group video calling (beta)
Integration with Facebook
Offline instant messaging
New contact search and improved contact adding
Enhanced call quality experience
User interface refresh
14 December 2010
Skype crashed on Call Phones area when user had more than one recently expired subscriptions
Contact requests sent from Skype for Windows in Cyrillic letters were shown as "?" marks on incoming contact request view on Skype for Android
Skype crashed on login for users who had two or more dots ("..") in their username in row.
Full screen sharing selection was not updated when selecting second monitor for screen sharing
Fixed the issues with Freetalk Everyman webcam and FaceVsion Touchcam N1 not going into HD video calling mode. Note! Camera firmware needs to be upgraded as well, see instructions for Freetalk and FaceVsion.
6 January 2011
Video calls now start by default in 640x480 resolution
Video calls on powerful computers start in 30 frames per second
Improved surfacing of 'Add Contact' and 'Create a Group' functions
Group video calling out of Beta
31 January 2011
15 March 2011
Modified call phones dialog with integrated contact number search
New presence-aware call button, including a drop-down of associated contact numbers
Modified presence icons, to better indicate a contact's availability status
Improved call handling when you run out of credit
New simple button to share files and contacts
Improvements to help you find active calls
New look for the contact profile area
7 April 2011
Improved quality of video received from Skype on mobile devices
Skype shows users' presence icons on collapsed contact profile cards
Conversation topic editing button is now always available on the conversation header
If a phone number is added to a profile after a failed call attempt, Skype starts a call automatically
Automatically switch to SMS entry after user adds mobile phone number to profile after failing to send SMS due to lack of phone number
20 April 2011
24 May 2011
26 May 2011
16 June 2011
Removes Skype Extras manager
28 July 2011
Skype to Facebook instant messaging
New and updated emoticons
New login experience
Improved call controls
Improved video calling reliability
Simplified installer flow
Avatar selection improved
Video snapshot capture improvements
Changed group conversations profile area
Plus several bug fixes
28 July 2011
Resolves Skype login issue for new installations that have UDP blocked on the network
Resolves video calling issue on some HP/Palm devices
23 August 2011
1 September 2011
13 September 2011
Adds support for Windows 8
29 September 2011
Screen sharing improvements
New 'getting started' experience
Small changes to the call controls
The 'Call Phones' button has been moved
Updated 'Click to Call' browser plugins
In call advertising
Skype Home' UI improvements in compact mode
Share your thoughts about this new version on our Support Network or in case you see the odd issue then please report it to us on our public issue tracker.
29 September 2011
Updated Skype Click to Call browser plugins
Fixed Skype home popping up on compact mode
13 October 2011
Removed Google product bundling
Added attribution of used third party software
13 October 2011
Removed Google product bundling
Added attribution of used third party software
2 February 2012
Full HD video-calling
Support for Facebook audio and video-calling (beta)
Group screen sharing
Hide offline Facebook contacts
Push to Talk
Skype updater service
Bing Bar integration
21 February 2012
6 March 2012
12 April 2012
A new confirmation message when sending a contact to a group conversation
A new Hotkey for taking snapshots during video calls
Improved non-standard international phone number recognition for Australian users
The ability to opt-out from silent updates
7 May 2012
7 June 2012
Hotfix for Windows 8 release preview
14 June 2012
Select and pin your favorite contacts
Facebook and Skype contacts combined into one Contacts list
Easier to understand premium subscription notices
Possibility to control Skype video rendering technology for backward compatibility for people who have trouble with video calls
Integration with Microsoft Outlook to allow initiation of a call or message from within Outlook. New 'add contact' interface. New profile design.
13 February 2013
New top toolbar with all major actions together in one place. Send eGift to friend who has a birthday. Added option to send IM with ctrl+enter. Computers with Intel Pentium III or similar CPUs, which do not support SSE2 instructions, are no longer supported.
14 March 2013
Maintenance release. 16:9 video ratio is now enforced, resulting in a loss in field of view and resolution when using 4:3 webcams. Features removed: No longer possible for a user to edit another user's message regardless of admin status. Not officially announced.[dead link]
5 June 2013
Improved video, simplified way to add contacts, bug fixes.
7 July 2013
Optimizations to the video messaging experience
14 October 2013
Performance improvements and fixes issues connection to Facebook problems
31 October 2013
New design log-in,Video call library upgrade,Performance improvements and fixes.
14 November 2013
Performance improvements and fixes.
OS X Version History
The factual accuracy of parts of this article (those related to table) may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(January 2013)
Release no longer supported
Release still supported
19 February 2006
improvement: minor cosmetic changes
improvement: more fully localized to Japanese
bugfix: calls directed to voicemail sometimes caused glitches in the call drawer
5 July 2006
Known issue: Users who created their account on Intel-based computers will not be able to revert to earlier versions of Skype, after they have installed Skype 22.214.171.124.
new feature: Universal binary: Skype is now made to run natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Mac computers
new feature: Web presence: Show your Skype status on the web and in your email signature
new language: Traditional Chinese
26 October 2006
Make video calls to anyone on Skype, no matter what kind of computer they are using.
30 January 2007
11 April 2007
Improved audio quality.
Transfer calls to your Skype contacts
16 May 2007
A new call-transfer feature that is exclusive to the Mac platform. Users can now select More > Call Transfer to transfer an ongoing call to another Skype user on their contact list.
Join public chats
Chat typing indicator: see when others are writing a message
Skype Prime: call a premium-service provider and pay for their advice and knowledge with Skype credit
Automatic updates: get new features and updates without having to go to Skype's website DTMF tones for automatic answering services available also during Skype-to-Skype calls
22 May 2007
bugfix: USB/Bluetooth Audio update
bugfix: Localization fixes
bugfix: renamed 'Rename...' to 'Edit Contact...' for SkypeOut contacts
bugfix: fixed deleting header files from Skype framework
bugfix: fixed crash after forced upgrade
13 June 2007
all localizations updated
improvement: Skype's own audio codec
improvement: Skype improved conference mixer
improvement: Skype Jitter Buffer and concealment
improvement: Skype audio preprocessing components
bugfix: fixed application hangup on handling certain URL links in chat messages
bugfix: fixed exception (resulting in disappearance of message) on handling certain intentionally constructed "bad" chat messages
Skype is claimed initially to be a secure communication, with one of its early web pages stating "highly secure with end-to-end encryption". Security services were invisible to the user, and encryption cannot be disabled. Skype reportedly uses publicly documented, widely trusted encryption techniques: RSA for key negotiation and the Advanced Encryption Standard to encrypt conversations. However, it is impossible to verify that these algorithms are used correctly, completely and at all times as there is no public review possible without a protocol specification and/or the program source code. Skype provides an uncontrolled registration system for users with no proof of identity. Instead, a free choice of nicknames permits users to use the system without revealing their identity to other users. It is trivial to set up an account using any name; the displayed caller's name is no guarantee of authenticity. A third party paper analyzing the security and methodology of Skype was presented at Black Hat Europe 2006. It analyzed Skype and found a number of security issues with the current security model.
In an interview Kurt Sauer, the Chief Security Officer of Skype, said, "We provide a safe communication option. I will not tell you whether we can listen or not." Skype's client uses an undocumented and proprietary protocol. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is concerned by user privacy issues arising from using proprietary software and protocols and has made a replacement for Skype one of their high priority projects. Security researchers Biondi and Desclaux have speculated that Skype may have a back door, since Skype sends traffic even when it is turned off and because Skype has taken extreme measures to obfuscate their traffic and functioning of their program. Several media sources reported that at a meeting about the "Lawful interception of IP based services" held on 25 June 2008, high-ranking unnamed officials at the Austrian interior ministry said that they could listen in on Skype conversations without problems. Austrian public broadcasting service ORF, citing minutes from the meeting, reported that "the Austrian police are able to listen in on Skype connections". Skype declined to comment on the reports. One easily demonstrated method of monitoring is to set up two computers with the same skype userid and password. When a message is typed or a call is received on one computer, the second computer duplicates the audio and text. This requires knowledge of the userid and password.
The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has interpreted the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) as requiring digital phone networks to allow wiretapping if authorized by an FBI warrant, in the same way as other phone services. In February 2009 Skype said that, not being a telephone company owning phone lines, it is exempt from CALEA and similar laws, which regulate US phone companies, and in fact it is not clear whether Skype could support wiretapping even if it wanted to. According to the ACLU, the Act is inconsistent with the original intent of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; more recently, the ACLU has expressed the concern that the FCC interpretation of the Act is incorrect. It has been suggested that Microsoft made changes to Skype's infrastructure to ease various wiretapping requirements; however, Skype denies the claims.
Some time before Skype was sold in 2009, the company had started its own program, called Project Chess, to explore legal and technical ways to easily share calls with intelligence agencies and law enforcement.
On 20 February 2009 the European Union's Eurojust agency announced that the Italian Desk at Eurojust would "play a key role in the coordination and cooperation of the investigations on the use of internet telephony systems (VoIP), such as 'Skype'. ... The purpose of Eurojust’s coordination role is to overcome the technical and judicial obstacles to the interception of internet telephony systems, taking into account the various data protection rules and civil rights"
In November 2010, a flaw was disclosed to Skype that showed how hackers could secretly track any user's IP address. As of 2013, this has still not been fixed.
In 2012, Skype introduced automatic updates to better protect users from security risks, but received some challenge from users of the Mac product, as the updates cannot be disabled from version 5.6 on, both on Mac OS and Windows versions, although in the latter, and only from version 5.9 on, automatic updating can be turned off in certain cases.
According to a 2012 Washington Post article, Skype "has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police"; the article additionally mentions Skype made changes to allow authorities access to addresses and credit card numbers.
13 November 2012, a Russian user published a flaw in Skype's security, which allowed any person to take over a Skype account knowing only the victim's email by following 7 steps. This vulnerability was claimed to exist for months, and existed for more than 12 hours since published widely.
14 May 2013, it was documented that a URL sent via a Skype instant messaging session was usurped by the Skype service and subsequently used in a HTTP HEAD query originating from an IP address registered to Microsoft in Redmond (the IP address used was 126.96.36.199). The Microsoft query used the full URL supplied in the IM conversation, and was generated by a previously undocumented security service. Security experts speculate the action was triggered by a technology similar to Microsoft's SmartScreen Filter used in its browsers.
The 2013 mass surveillance disclosures revealed that agencies such as the NSA and the FBI have the ability to eavesdrop on Skype, including the monitoring and storage of text and video calls and file transfers. The PRISM surveillance program, which requires FISA court authorization, reportedly has allowed the NSA unfettered access to its data center supernodes. According to the leaked documents, integration work began in November 2010, but it was not until February 2011 that the company was served with a directive to comply signed by the attorney general.
Service in the People's Republic of China
This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(January 2012)
Since September 2007, users in China trying to download the Skype software client have been redirected to the site of TOM Online, a joint venture between a Chinese wireless operator and Skype, from which a modified Chinese version can be downloaded. The TOM client participates in China's system of Internet censorship, monitoring text messages between Skype users in China as well as messages exchanged with users outside the country. Niklas Zennström, then chief executive of Skype, told reporters that TOM "had implemented a text filter, which is what everyone else in that market is doing. Those are the regulations." He also stated: "One thing that’s certain is that those things are in no way jeopardising the privacy or the security of any of the users."
In October 2008, it was reported that TOM had been saving the full message contents of some Skype text conversations on its servers, apparently focusing on conversations containing political issues such as Tibet, Falun Gong, Taiwan independence, and the Chinese Communist Party. The saved messages contain personally identifiable information about the message senders and recipients, including IP addresses, usernames, land line phone numbers, and the entire content of the text messages, including the time and date of each message. Information about Skype users outside China who were communicating with a TOM-Skype user was also saved. A server misconfiguration made these log files accessible to the public for a time.
As of February 2012, Skype provides support through their web support portal, support community, @skypesupport on Twitter, and Skype Facebook page. Direct contact via email and live chat is available through their web support portal. Chat Support is a premium feature available to Skype Premium and some other paid users.
In January 2010 Skype rescinded their policy of seizing funds in Skype accounts that have been inactive (no paid call) for 180 days. This was in settlement to a class action lawsuit. A settlement of up to US$4 was paid to persons who opted into the action.
Skype's refund policy states that they will provide refunds in full if a client has used less than 1 euro of their Skype Credit. "Upon a duly submitted request, Skype will refund you on a pro rata basis for the unused period of a Product".
Skype has come under some criticism from users and as well for the inability to close accounts. Users not wanting to continue using Skype can make their account inactive by deleting all personal information, except for the user name.
Although Skype is a commercial product, its free version is being used with increasing frequency among teachers and schools interested in global education projects. For example Skype is being used to facilitate language exchange. Students in different parts of the world are paired off, each is a native speaker of the language that the other wishes to learn. In conversations over Skype they alternate between the two languages.
Teachers are using Skype in unique ways to fulfill educational goals. The videoconferencing aspect of the software is valuable in that it provides a way to connect students who speak different languages, hold virtual field trips, and reach out to experts in varying fields of study. These experiences allow students a chance to apply what they are learning in the classroom to real-life experiences and it also achieves further learning opportunities.
Skype in the classroom is another free tool that Skype has set up on their website. It provides teachers with a way to make their classrooms more interactive and interesting. Skype in the classroom is a service that teachers can sign up for that will allow students to meet other students, talk to experts, and share ideas. Teachers can collaborate with other teachers around the world and design different learning experiences for their students. There are various Skype lessons, in which students can participate. Teachers can also use Skype’s’ search tool and find experts in the field of their choice.
Outages and downtime
This section is outdated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(February 2012)
On 16 August 2007, Skype became unavailable for two days to a majority of its users. Millions of users were requesting to log in at the same time following a routine Windows Update and this flooded the peer-to-peer system.
On 22 December 2010, it was reported that Skype experienced an outage estimated to represent 8 million foregone calls. Skype administrators placed the following message on their Twitter page: "Some of you may have problems signing in to Skype – we're investigating, and we're sorry for the disruption to your conversations...engineers and site operations are working non-stop to get things back to normal." The problem came down to the limited availability of "supernodes", affecting some versions of Skype. Later in the day, Skype's CEO, Tony Bates, issued an apology. He said that the matter was being taken very seriously and was being thoroughly investigated. He said that malicious attack was not being ruled out as a problem cause and he put his estimate of the foregone calls at about 10 million. On 23 December 2010, Skype's blog with Tony Bates issued another apology through a video posted on YouTube for the Skype outage.
The problem persisted across the North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. It had started to subside by 8:30 pm UTC; however users were warned it might take several hours for the program to be fully operative again. It was reported at 9:27 am 23 December UTC that most users were able to log in again although some still could not. On the other hand into Thursday only about a third of the expected traffic was actually using Skype, relative to the time-period. On 23 December 2010, Skype said on its blog that the system had stabilized, and a detailed explanation of the incident was published six days later. Bates offered all Pay As You Go and Pre-Pay customers a free call to any landline as compensation. Subscribers had their subscription extended by one week.
Open source alternatives
Open source alternatives to Skype include Jitsi, Ekiga and Vox. These multiplatform clients can encrypt chats, calls and video calls. Users are required to register an XMPP account to use the software.