VoIP and instant messaging problem looming: Skype doesn't support IPv6

Summary:Microsoft may be closing down Windows Live Messenger in favor of Skype, but Skype has a connectivity problem: It doesn't support the Internet's next generation protocol: IPv6.

skype-windows8
Skype may be available on Windows 8, but it's not available on the IPv6 Internet.

Skype, despite built-in advertising and no privacy guarantees  is still a very popular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and instant messaging (IM) client. Indeed, Microsoft is replacing Windows Live Messaging with Skype . Skype has another problem that's becoming increasingly troublesome: It doesn't support Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

This is rather odd. Windows 8, and earlier versions of Windows, support IPv6 .  With the last IPv4 addresses vanishing , more and more businesses and groups are moving to IPv6 and most MIcrosoft applications have long supported the next generation Internet protocol. By staying stuck in the IPv4 lane, Skype will not only become unusable for smoe users, it's also becoming an obstacle to IPv6 adoption.

Cameron Byrne, Technical Staff Architect at T-Mobile, observed on the IPv6 Internet operators list that "Yet another year goes by, and Skype still remains one of the most popular apps, and thus its IPv4 dependence blocks meaningful IPv6-only adoption. Skype is the poster child of IPv4 dependence."

True, problems and all, Skype remains very popular. Skype may account for as much as a third of international long distance call minutes and it's well lovedr on Android as a way of dodging carrier voice minutes restrictions.

That's all well and good but as Dan York, Senior Content Strategist for the Internet Society points out Skype's IPv4 requirements is a real problem for moving the Internet to its next protocol. "Skype's failure to support IPv6 *is* a major hurdle for many organizations and *is* the reason I've had multiple people tell me they can't move to an IPv6-only network (or even is just a blocker for them to even think about IPv6, i.e. 'Skype doesn't work with IPv6 so why should we bother.' In truth, it is the primary reason why *I* can't move to using only IPv6 within my home network."

Since we will run out of IPv4 addresses soon, North America's last IPv4 address is expected to be assigned out next June, Microsoft needs to do something sooner than later. When I asked Microsoft about this their only response was "Skype does not support IPv6 at this time." Microsoft, now's the time to pick a time.

We know Microsoft can do it. Lync 2013, Microsoft's enterprise collaboration server, which also supports VoIP and IM, and includes Skype interoperability, already supports IPv6 .

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Topics: Networking, Android, Collaboration, Microsoft, Telcos, Windows

About

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; and we liked it.His work has been published in everything from highly technical publications... Full Bio

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