Updated Skype patches critical and brings high quality video

Updated Skype patches critical and brings high quality video

Summary: After the long and embarrassing Skype global outage in August, you would think Skype would want to avoid further PR disasters.  But now we find out that Skype patches high-risk flaw but didn't warn the public for a month.

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After the long and embarrassing Skype global outage in August, you would think Skype would want to avoid further PR disasters.  But now we find out that Skype patches high-risk flaw but didn't warn the public for a month.  Skype is a killer-app that is here to stay in the home and even business world and it is still the best-of-breed VoIP and video conferencing applications on the planet, but the public wants full transparency on these incidents.  Covering up these things just turn a minor disaster it to a big one and it's going to hurt Skype in the long run.

On the bright side, I've updated my version of Skype to 3.6.0.216 and I was pleasantly surprised by improved video conferencing quality in the update.  To get improved video quality, you must have a dual-core processor, minimum 384 kbps upstream/downstream Internet, and a premium Logitech camera like the QuickCam Pro 9000 (I am an impressed owner).

Update 12/13/2007 - Skype updated to version 3.6.0.244 yesterday.  It's getting hard to keep track of these updates one after another.

Topics: Hardware, Collaboration, Processors, Social Enterprise

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10 comments
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  • "Skype is a killer-app...here to stay in the home and even business world"

    Not in my business world it isn't. I won't let my users install it ever.
    IT_Guy_z
    • IT is there to support the business, not the other way around

      IT is there to support the business, not the other way around. Without the business, there is no IT. Skype is one of the best communication tools ever created. If a business wants to use it, it's not IT's place to say no.
      georgeou
      • Have To Disagree

        Absolutely, without the business, there is no IT, but if IT is not there to manage technology and say things like, "Hey, there are risks to using this application in this environment, so we either manage the heck out of it, or we don't run it at all," then all IT is there for is to act as nursemaids and janitors, which takes far more work than managing the risks to begin with.

        Skype is a nifty product, and certainly can save communication costs and has the potential to heighten productivity. Unfortunately, it is also a significant security risk, bandwidth-eater, and combines the productivity-sink and abuse potential of a telephone and instant messaging combined. If the pieces aren't in place to manage these risks, then, yeah, I'd say that it IS IT's place to say, "No, not unless you give us the resources to manage it properly." Otherwise, your IT Department is going to be twice as large as it needs to be, in order to clean up the messes that the business unit creates when it decides that it absolutely must have what ever technology toy du jour some business magazine tells them they absolutely must have.
        Whyaylooh
        • Bandwidth is only an issue if you're using Video

          Bandwidth is only an issue if you're using Video and that can be controlled via who gets webcam or not. Yes it would be nice if Skype could be managed via Group Policy or something like that, but it is a very powerful tool. IT can't just constantly say no to everything and the business ultimately gets to ignore the advice from IT if they feel the tradeoffs are worth it.

          As for productivity abuse, you can say that about the web browser and email but you don't ban that do you? At some point you're going to have to have policies in place against this sort of thing. You're going to have to manage your employees based on bottom line and how productive they are and not necessarily watch them like prisoners.
          georgeou
          • Management vs. Banning

            True, if all the business unit hears from their IT staff to anything requested is, "No," the business unit is going to start ignoring the advice, and going "cowboy". The proper response from IT should likely be, "Only if we have the tools to manage it."

            Web browser usage can be -- and, in most business environments, is -- monitored at the firewall. If users are persistently visiting sites that are questionable and/or not related to the business, then it is flagged for review. This is common practice.

            Similar deal for email access. This activity can be, and often is, monitored, this time by the mail servers and gateways. All sorts of management tools are available here to keep an eye open for abuse.

            Even telephones systems are managed to some degree, monitoring numbers and call times. If a lot of time is spent calling particular numbers, these are flagged.

            Skype? Management tools are still just sort of "getting there", but they do exist. (Facetime's Internet Security Edition's Skype control, for example.) It's up to the folks who know their technology infrastructure best as to whether or not these tools are good enough. If they are, and the business unit is all right with implementing these solutions, then a compromise is possible, absolutely. Otherwise, implementation should be at least held off until tools are brought into play where it can be properly managed.

            The key is manageability. If you can manage it, keep it from bringing down your business and technology environment, and there is a legitimate business need for it, then, by all means, accomodations should be made, as the risks involved are mitigated. Until then, it should either not be allowed in the environment, or very tightly regulated. Besides, do remember that it is also in the best interest of other parts of that same business unit -- particularly, human resources and legal/counsel -- that these management tools are in place, and used.
            Whyaylooh
          • You're right, but this is part of the paralysys through analysis

            You're right, but this is part of the paralysys through analysis in large corporations and organizations. One of the biggest problems with VoIP is that all the VoIP networks are little isolated islands. Then all the calls have to be translated to POTS (Plain old telephone service) and back to VoIP which kills the quality of the call no to mention the fact that we can't get wideband operational. Skype bypasses this paralysis and delivers high-quality end-to-end wideband making phone calls that much clearer and usable.
            georgeou
          • Back To The Point

            Oh, without a doubt, as far as VoIP solutions go, Skype seems to not only have the technology nailed down -- even with recent developments, Skype handles little things like jitter much better than, say, SIP -- but it also has that whole market saturation thing going for it now. About the only area it IS lagging other solutions seems to be centralized management and control -- which is a factor for some businesses; I know of at least a few who went with other solutions instead of Skype because of this -- but that seems to be coming along. Nowadays, if it involves VoIP, it seems to be Skype, and everyone else.

            . . . But . . .

            The original bone of contention here here wasn't if Skype was a viable VoIP solution. It was that, if the business unit wants it, it's IT's job to shut up and make it happen. ("If a business wants to use it, it's not IT's place to say no.") In my opinion -- yes, I know, we all have bajillions of them -- it is precisely IT's place to put up the red flag, if it feels that having Skype in the environment is more trouble than it is worth, or that the business' expectations of what benefits Skype will bring to the business are off the mark.

            Granted, 99 times out of 100, what ever it is, if it goes high enough up the business chain, IT will be overridden, whether the idea is a good one being stopped because of matters of implementation that need to be resolved -- though I'll certainly agree with you that there IS a fine line between sufficient planning and preparation, and "analysis paralysis", and too many IT departments have trouble handling where that line falls -- or one that involves using those R2-D2's sold at the local Sharper Image as an interoffice communication metholodology. So, I guess you could say, if the business wants it enough, IT saying, "No," is actually moot. I do say, however, that it is IT's responibility to step up and make the business unit aware of the obstacles they will run into, and make sure that expectations, benefits and risks of what they are getting are accurate. Otherwise, once again, all IT will be there for will be to clean up the messes.
            Whyaylooh
  • H.264

    How does it perform compared with H.264 George?

    Have you tried Ekiga developers edition or Apple iChat?
    D T Schmitz
  • SKYPE - HYPE!

    Quality video? Only if your half blind!

    I use twin Xeon dual core processors and a Orbit QuickCam AF 30 FPS webcam on a 6 mbt DSL with the latest SKYPE HYPE release. Oh, yeah, great video at 10 FPS... Great!

    And tech. support? Another wonderful experience: Email only from Harold in India! No matter what you write, the same canned response, over and over! Technocurry-no-support!

    Oh, and did I mention the issue regarding about 30% of users that do not receive any video in a call!! And is SKYPE-HYPE aware of this? You bet! Their response: "We have no idea what is causing this in version 3.x".

    Concerning video calling, SKYPE is a big fat zero!
    RS9
    • What's your experience level with Ekiga and H.264?

      As for Skype for Linux (beta) 2.0.0.27, I can hold a decent video session over a tethered N95 EDGE connection with it.

      But have you tried H.264 with Ekiga or any other softphone?
      D T Schmitz