Early Verdict On Skype 4.0 Beta - IT STINKS!!!!

I have been debating whether I would risk installing the Skype 4.0 beta release on my test system (there's absolutely ZERO chance that it will ever be installed on my live system).

I have been debating whether I would risk installing the Skype 4.0 beta release on my test system (there's absolutely ZERO chance that it will ever be installed on my live system). I decided to wait a few days and see what the initial reactions are. Well, it didn't take a few days. If you eliminate the sites which are simply parroting the Skype press release, the reaction is overwhelmingly negative. As usual, it appears that the Skype "engineers" have been operating in complete isolation, ignorant of anything and everything else which might resemble good human interface design. After seeing what Skype did to their User Forums when the converted to the "Skype Community", and now seeing what they have done to the program with this new release, I've had to change my opinion of what is lacking there. I used to think they needed some good engineering management, but now it looks like even getting some adult supervision would be a big improvement.

The comments in the Skype Community are typical, and so far I don't see one single positive word there. I know such forums are used for reporting bugs and problems, but don't you generally get at least a few who say "wow, I love it" when a new release comes out? Not this time, it seems... But my current favorite is Jan Geirnaert's blog. He has a lot of experience with Skype, and it's interesting to see how his posts grew increasingly negative, after the initial post of the beta release, as he investigated and tested it.

The "Reader's Digest" version of the complaints is, it consumes far too much screen space (it even starts in full-screen mode!), the design of the buttons and such are awful (unless you happen to be visually impaired), the new arrangement of the contacts is confusing and illogical, and it has all of the normal Skype bugs we have come to know and hate - video crashing, installation problems, and such.

I expect that Skype will try to shrug this off by once again saying it is all of us "over fifties" who are unable to adjust to this "wave of the future", but I suspect (and hope) the only "wave" to come out of this will be the users waving as they leave Skype in droves.

jw 18/6/2008

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