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Please, PLEASE, Skype... Don't kill our apps and headsets, plead devs

Petition demands stay of execution on doomed desktop API

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Third-party Skype developers are rallying against a Microsoft decision that threatens to break the voice-chat service for partners and millions of users.

A Change.org petition has been launched that calls on Skype, and owner Microsoft, to reverse their decision to kill the nine-year-old Skype desktop programming interface in December.

This API lets third-party products – such as phones, headsets and apps – work with the free-but-flaky VoIP service.

The petition has, to date, attracted 480 signatures from peeps protesting against being forced into using the newer, mobile-friendly Skype URIs: these work on iPhones, iPads, Android gear and Windows Phone handsets as well as desktop computers running Apple's OS X and Microsoft Windows 8, 7 and XP.

Skype partners were informed of the decision to terminate the desktop API by Skype's developer program chief Chris Andrews in July. Visit the Skype support page now and you see this warning:

The Desktop API was created in 2004 and it doesn't support mobile application development. We have, therefore, decided to retire the Desktop API in December 2013.

But, fans warn killing the desktop API without a migration path or some other kind of escape plan risks busting existing VoIP peripherals, such as Skype-compatible handsets and headsets, along with software and services for recording calls and archiving conversations.

They believe the HTML-based Skype URI interface lacks the rich functionality needed to build decent third-party services and products for Skype.

The petition calls on Skype to postpone the impending kill decision and continue supporting the desktop API until developers find a way to offer their tech through other means.

"The decision to discontinue Skype's Desktop API impacts our ability to use Skype within my normal Skype calling activities. Please reconsider this decision and provide a migration path such that the user functionality provided by these API's (sic) is sustained," the petition said.

Speaking to The Reg this summer, before the petition was organised, one signatory expressed surprise at the speed with which Skype has moved considering how long the API has been active and how widely it's used.

Greg Bell, managing director at groupware and collaboration specialist Advansys that makes RecollX for Skype, said: "Even though we had some idea of what may happen, the final decision and how it is being executed was a big surprise. We thought at least the API would continue to exist and function, even if it was no longer officially supported.

"We had also expected 18 months to two years as a lead time to transition our products, hopefully within which time there would be a new, better API replacement." ®

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