Skype used to be one of the most popular communications platforms in the world in terms of number of users. It is a multi-feature cross-platform communication that serves as an internet protocol telephone, a videoconferencing platform, and an instant messenger. It even outlasted earlier instant messaging clients such as Yahoo Messenger and was announced as one of the most downloaded applications on mobile devices from 2010 to 2019.
A surge in usage of more robust videoconferencing alternatives such as Zoom Meetings, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams due to the coronavirus pandemic that began in the first quarter of 2020 has left it with a reduced market share. The widespread usage of messaging apps such as Messenger and WhatsApp from Meta Platforms, Telegram Messenger, and Rakuten Viber has also lessened its appeal as an instant messaging platform.
It is still an active service. Microsoft continues to provide software updates and introduce new features such as high-definition video calls, end-to-end encryption, live subtitles, and screen sharing. The integration of Bing Chat provides users with direct access to an AI chatbot that serves as a comprehensive and creative source of information. This article explores and lists the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages of Skype.
Pros: Advantages of Skype and Notable Features
The core features of this communication platform revolve around voice over internet protocol for enabling phone calls via an internet connection, videoconferencing or video calls with multiple participants and instant messaging with a contact list and account-registered contacts. It also has complementary features that enhance the overall user experience. The following are the notable features and advantages of Skype:
1. Clean and Intuitive User Interface
Ease of use is a notable characteristic of this platform. It has a straightforward user interface that is intuitive to navigate around. There is a main menu for accessing different features and settings. The overall user interface is also divided into three main windows. These are the chat window, a call window, a dedicated status window, and a contact list. The interface can also be customized according to the preferences of users. A particular user can change the color theme or add or remove features or icons from the main menu.
2. Remarkable Audio and Video Quality
Another advantage of Skype is its excellent audio and video quality. Phone calls are clear and videos are in high definition. The settings for audio and video can also be customized. These include specific camera, microphone, speakers, volume, noise cancellation, and background settings. It is still important to note that the quality of audio and video is also dependent on the internet connection of involved parties, the hardware capabilities of the devices used to run the platform, and the application version of the platform.
3. Available Across Different Platforms
This communication platform is also available as a freemium native app for different platforms or operating systems. There is a dedicated app for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Debian desktop operating systems. It is also available in Android and iOS or iPadOS mobile operating systems and the more specific WatchOS and Wear OS operating systems for wearable devices.
4. Integration of Bing Chat Copilot
Users can also access the AI-powered chatbot and search engine Bing Chat via the platform. This generative artificial intelligence service is integrated within Skype and can be used for asking questions, obtaining information, and generating ideas. This lessens the need for using the Microsoft Edge browser or the Bing application. It can also enhance conversations between family members, friends, and workmates. Bing Chat supports more than 100 languages and it can communicate well using one of these languages.
5. Free Platform With Paid Options
Skype is a free platform that does not require a subscription or payment to use its basic features. These features include all the calling, videoconferencing, and instant messaging features. It is also possible to use this platform to host audio or video conferences with up to 100 participants for free. Users also have the option to purchase and use Skype Credits or subscribe to the service to call landlines and mobile phones at low rates. It is also possible to purchase a Skype Number for unlimited phone calls or send SMS from the platform.
Cons: Disadvantages of Skype and Main Issues
The three core features mentioned above represent the biggest advantage of Skype. However, despite providing a single platform for most common forms of communication on the internet, it struggles to grow its user base. This comes from its limitations and several main issues that have made alternative communication platforms a more appealing choice. The following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of Skype:
1. Limited Conferencing Participants
Remember that this platform allows audio or video conferencing with up to 100 participants for free. Other videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom Meetings, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams also have a large participant limit. Zoom allows 100 participants under the free plan and up to 300 participants under the Business plan. It also has the Zoom Webinars feature that can host a live broadcast to up to 100000 audience. Google Meet and Microsoft Teams have a default limit of 1000 participants under their free plans.
2. Unimpressive Messaging Features
Another disadvantage of Skype is that its instant messaging features are not as expansive as others. Facebook Messenger takes advantage of the existing user base of Facebook. WhatsApp and Telegram have larger group chat participant limits on top of a more organized file-sharing feature and call and video calling features. These platforms have become more popular because their main selling point centers on messaging. Skype has become confusing because of its three main features sold as its three main selling points.
3. Restricted Calling Capabilities
The voice over internet protocol feature of this platform is one of its strong features. It still has some limitations. The platform does not allow calling emergency numbers such as the 911 hotline in North America and the 112 in Europe. The Skype Number is also available to selected countries. This means that users not included in the list cannot utilize this service. Examples include those living in several countries in Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South America, and Central Asia.
4. Lacks Enterprise-Level Features
Other videoconferencing and instant messaging platforms are built with professional users and businesses or organizations in mind. This is another disadvantage of Skype. It does not have comprehensive features that can improve internal workplace communications or support remote work or work-from-home setups. Zoom Meetings has features for event management, Google Meet is integrated with other Google digital products and services, and Telegram has various options for various messaging requirements or use cases.
5. Key Security and Privacy Issues
It provides end-to-end encryption but this is limited to instant messaging. Communications made through phone calls or video conferences are not encrypted. Another notable security issue of Skype is that it has an uncontrolled registration system. It does not ask individuals to provide proof of their identities nor does it link a particular account to a traceable identifier. This makes it more susceptible to spammers, users with fake or stolen identities, and those who intend to use the platform for malicious or fraudulent purposes.
Verdict: Advantages and Disadvantages of Skype
Skype remains a feature-rich cross-platform communication platform for internet protocol telephony, videoconferencing, and instant messaging. However, because of the arrival of alternatives, its notable advantages have been overshadowed. This does not mean that it is less capable or not as efficient as others. It is worth mentioning that it has better videoconferencing features compared to instant messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and Telegram.
It is still important to note that Zoom Meetings, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams have become the preferred choice for videoconferencing. These platforms have better features and capabilities suited for large participants. The dedicated videoconferencing service from Microsoft also blurs the market position of Skype while also making it a redundant app to have because of the fact the messaging services of social networking platforms have become default options.