After some delays, Microsoft is finally going to kill Skype Classic on November 1. If you’re a Skype user, you’ll have to upgrade from Skype 7 to Skype 8 or stop using Skype. Here’s what’s different, and why people are upset.

What is Skype Classic?

Skype Classic is also known as Skype 7. It’s the latest version of the traditional Windows desktop version of Skype that was first released fifteen years ago.

As this is a Windows desktop application with a decade and a half of history, it’s packed with all sorts of powerful features and options. And, on November 1, 2018, it will stop working. Microsoft considers it outdated, legacy software.

Let’s clarify: Microsoft has said it will start killing Skype Classic “in waves” starting on November 1. Not everyone will have to upgrade from Skype Classic to Skype 8 immediately. But, if Microsoft chooses to upgrade you, you won’t have a choice. And, even if you dodge the initial wave on November 1, we expect Microsoft will upgrade you within the few weeks after that.

What is Skype 8?

Skype 8 is the new version of Skype. On Windows 10, Skype 8 is included by default with Windows and comes from the Windows Store, making it a UWP application. On Windows 7, macOS, and Linux, Skype 8 is a normal downloadable application. You can even download the “desktop” version of Skype 8 on Windows 10 and have it installed side-by-side with the “Store” version of Skype 8 included with Windows 10, for some reason.

This version of Skype has been rebuilt from the ground up. It’s “streamlined” and simple, with a new interface. Microsoft says “all version 8 applications are optimized to work in conjunction with our modern, mobile-friendly cloud services architecture.”

As you might expect, it’s missing many of the more powerful features found in Skype Classic. If you’re a Skype user, you’ll have to leave Skype behind and switch to Skype 8 after November 1.

Microsoft has been trying to push Skype 7 users to Skype 8 for a while, so you may already be using Skype 8 unless you’ve declined the upgrade prompts. Skype Classic can no longer be downloaded from the official Skype download page.

What’s the Problem With Skype 8?

Many vocal Skype Classic users aren’t happy about the change. Here are just a few features available in Skype 7, but not in the new Skype 8:

  • Skype Classic let you have multiple windows, so you could have several different chat conversations open at once across your desktop, or have your contacts list in a separate window. Skype 8 limits you to a single window.
  • Skype Classic let you run two or more instances of Skype, making it easy to sign in with both a personal and work account on the same PC. Skype 8 doesn’t let you do this. You can only sign in with a single account at a time.
  • Skype 8 only lets you set your status as Available, Do Not Disturb, or Invisible. Skype Classic also let you set your status as Away, but that’s gone.
  • Many fewer options are available. For example, Skype Classic lets you enable or disable individual sound events and choose custom sound effects for them. Skype 8 just provides a single toggle to enable or disable all in-app sounds without customizing them.
  • The version of Skype 8 included with Windows 10 can’t read DirectShow device inputs, but only camera inputs available to UWP apps. This means you can’t use software like Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), Xsplit, or Manycam to capture your screen and share it on Skype. Sure, Skype has built-in screen recording, but some people depend on the more advanced features in other applications. (You can download the “desktop” version of Skype 8 from Microsoft’s website to get this feature. We were also just informed that the latest version of Manycam supports Skype 8.)
  • You can’t disable emoji, and Skype automatically expands them. So you can’t type a serious sentence like “He was pretty out of it (drunk) that night.” If you do, Skype will automatically convert “(drunk)” into a silly-looking animated face, as that’s just one of Skype’s emoji. It’s wacky, and not something everyone wants in a chat client.

That’s just a small snapshot of missing features. Skype Classic is like Microsoft Office apps Word or Excel—they’re old and packed with features. People have been using them for a long time, and everyone uses different ones. That’s why Microsoft couldn’t replace classic Word and Excel with new trimmed-down UWP apps.

Microsoft has added some powerful new features to Skype lately, like a built-in call recording feature. But that’s cold comfort to people who depend on features that are going away.

We’ve also seen some users saying the new Skype doesn’t work well, and some users have reported issues with notifications and messages not sending correctly. Look, I’ll be honest—while I used to use Skype, I dumped it years ago due to reliability problems, and I don’t know how well it works right now. It seemed to work fine when I tested it. But, if you’re a Skype user, you’re about to find out!

Why is Microsoft Killing Skype Classic Now?

Microsoft has tried to ax Skype Classic before, but users complained. It’s been a long road to get here. In 2015, Microsoft announced it was retiring the “modern” Skype application for Windows 8 and refocusing on the same desktop application it’s now killing.

Back in July 2018, Microsoft announced that Skype Classic would stop working on September 1, and users would have to upgrade to Skype 8. Microsoft wants all Skype users on its new “modern” version of Skype.

After many vocal user complaints and even a petition, Microsoft gave Skype Classic a reprieve on August 31. Skype Classic would continue to live while Microsoft worked on adding some user-requested features to Skype 8.

Unfortunately, Microsoft set a new kill-date: November 1. On November 1, Skype Classic will stop working for real, and you’ll have to upgrade to Skype 8 if you want to keep using Skype.

Will Microsoft follow through this time? No one knows for sure, but we expect Microsoft will make good on its threat. Even if there’s another delay, Skype Classic will be dead soon.

Switch to Skype 8 or Leave Skype Behind

If you want to keep using Skype, you’ll have to use Skype 8. You won’t have a choice, as Skype 7 will stop connecting to Microsoft’s servers.

Let’s be honest: For most Skype users who only use Skype for calling and chatting, Skype 8 is probably fine. If you don’t depend on a feature that’s going away, you may not really care about the switch.

But, if you and your Skype contacts aren’t happy with Skype 8 for some reason, your only option will be switching to a competing chat application. Discord and Telegram are pretty popular, as is Facebook Messenger. And, of course, there are mobile-centric applications like WhatsApp and Apple iMessage, too.

Here’s one piece of good news: You can currently have both Skype 7 and Skype 8 installed on your Windows PC, so you still have some time to test Skype 8 and see if it’s missing any useful features you depend on. You don’t have to wait for Microsoft’s November 1st surprise.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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