Skype: good or bad?

Skype now has a momentum that makes it hard to ignore — almost anybody on broadband who is interested in dodging long distance call fees is now happily chatting away. And though it doesn’t always “just work”, it’s certainly good enough and easy enough that it has mainstream appeal, unlike most previous VOIP applications, at least the freebie ones.

But its proprietary nature has got some commenters hot under the collar. In this month’s Australian Personal Computer, Dan Warne takes a swipe at Skype (heh), and suggests we shouldn’t use it (not online alas). Ted Wallingford has a similar beef.

Personally, I’m just following the pack. I don’t have the time to look around for a good open source, standards-based alternative, and even so, would it have the critical mass of users that Skype has? A number of overseas friends are now on Skype, so I’m happy to have the client running, alongside Trillian — which is for my many ICQ contacts. Yes, ICQ. I also haven’t been convinced to switch to Jabber, the open source IM client… why would I? Only one person I know uses it.

It’d be great if Skype had embraced existing standards. They say SIP and other protocols weren’t good enough for them, and they had to go down their own road. But if likewise it would be a gesture of goodwill to open up the protocol, and get it ratified as a standard. Maybe when they’ve made their first billion.

The other night I had a surprise Skype call from a friend in Poland I haven’t talked to for about five years. It may have its problems sometimes, but by and large it does just work. And for me as a consumer, I’m afraid that’s more convincing than some open source, standards ideal.

7 thoughts on “Skype: good or bad?

  1. punistation

    It’s just another “Don’t pay for Microsoft Windows! Use Linux! It’s Free! FREE~!” I can count the people I know who use/know HOW to use Linux on one tail.

  2. Ren

    I love my ICQ. It’s the only thing I use these days (aside from the odd MSN client for strange people who want to contaact me and don’t have Trillian or ICQ). Then again, I was totally against Firefox too, and look what I’m using now.

  3. martha

    There is another free internet phone which operates solely from within a web browser (no downloads and no installations). is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux and only requires a browser with the Java 1.4 (or higher) plugin installed. It can go through client firewalls, works over dialup, and has offline voicemail (which is my favorite feature). And, it is totally free.

  4. sHAUNA

    I think skype is cool im only 11 but i think I should have my say too. Its good because when u dont have credit how are you going to ring your friends well? answear that one so you would be lost without it!! From Shauna in Dublin.

  5. jake.carlee

    We downloaded skype and deposited to try to get a skype-in number , but then we realized the service isnt available in Canada. Hopefully they refund my money!

  6. Student

    Skype sucks, because it uses a lot of CPU resources and denies doing it. i’m curious what kind of other things they make without being noticed… i will not use it, as one good computer specialist said “Skype is a high-class parasite, andstealing resources is only one of the many things it does. but usual peoples doesn’t notice that and use it naively. sad.”

  7. Sam


    Get a better computer… I havent found a single program on the planet (OK, apart from maybe running 4 different OS’s at a time through VMWare) that gives my CPU any problems…

    Skype is a brilliant tool, and I can say for a fact the founders are raking it in…

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