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Skype U-turns on plan to kill off desktop API, spares foot from bullet

Phones, headsets and voice recording lives on - for now

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Skype has backtracked on a decision to terminate its desktop API next month, a move that would have broken the voice-chat service for millions.

Microsoft’s Voice-over-IP unit has said it’s now “extending support” for the parts of the API that work with hardware and allow the user to record calls.

Chat through third-party applications will stop, though, as planned.

There’s no word on how long the hardware and call-recording reprieve will last.

Skype’s Noah Edelstein blogged Thursday that the reprieve would last "until we determine alternative options or retire the current solution".

The climb-down follows a backlash from Skype developers and partners, who’ve established businesses building peripherals and software plug ins to the service over the decades.

One commenter, Nicolas Brunner, responded to the news of the reprieve by saying: “I am so glad you came to this conclusion. I am sure it saved countless business relationships and subscribers. Communication could have been... better.”

The desktop API has been in existence since 2004 and has helped establish the service and an ecosystem of partners worldwide.

Overnight, though, Skype threatened to kill partners’ businesses and unleash customer fury by deprecating a critical API.

The hardware portion of the API is critical because it lets a raft of partners build phones and headsets capable of working with the VoIP service.

The result would have been broken applications, phones and headsets for business and consumers users, without explanation.

Developers swung into action with a petition on Change.org calling on Skype to re-consider the kill order and offer them a migration path off the desktop API.

The number of signatories to the petition has more than doubled in just under two weeks has more than doubled from 480 to 1,237.

The catalyst was Skype’s developer program chief Chris Andrew telling partners in July that his company would stop development and maintenance of the desktop API from December.

The logic was that the desktop API doesn’t work on mobile devices, and the stated direction was for the HTML-based Skype URI interface to replace it, as it works across a range of devices including Mac and PC. ®

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