Microsoft Skype breaks open-source partnership

What a surprise! The pre-Microsoft purchase Skype will no longer let Digium include Skype functionality in its open-source Asterisk telephone services server.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

I told you so. I knew that Steve Ballmer could talk all he wanted about how Microsoft would continue to support non-Microsoft platforms, but that there was no way he'd actually do it. The first proof is here. Digium, the company behind the popular open-source Asterisk private-branch exchange (PBX) program, has announced that Skype has unilaterally ended its deal that allowed Asterisk to work with Skype.

Digium's letter to its Asterisk users reads:

Skype for Asterisk will not be available for sale or activation after July 26, 2011.

Skype for Asterisk was developed by Digium in cooperation with Skype. It includes proprietary software from Skype that allows Asterisk to join the Skype network as a native client. Skype has decided not to renew the agreement that permits us to package this proprietary software. Therefore Skype for Asterisk sales and activations will cease on July 26, 2011.

This change should not affect any existing users of Skype for Asterisk. Representatives of Skype have assured us that they will continue to support and maintain the Skype for Asterisk software for a period of two years thereafter, as specified in the agreement with Digium. We expect that users of Skype for Asterisk will be able to continue using their Asterisk systems on the Skype network until at least July 26, 2013. Skype may extend this at their discretion.

Skype for Asterisk remains for sale and activation until July 26, 2011. Please complete any purchases and activations before that date.

It doesn't require a genius to see what the Microsoft and Skype are doing. This summer Microsoft will be launching the Microsoft-hosted version of its Lync unified-communications server, aka Lync Online. Asterisk is a direct competitor to the entire Lync line. Need I say more?

While Microsoft still hasn't explained how they're going to integrate Skype's rickety peer-to-peer (P2P) infrastructure with its server-based Lync server or its cloud-based Lync Online, it's on their to-do list. What isn't on MicroSkype's to do list is supporting non-Microsoft owned and controlled platforms.

Skype's Response:

Jennifer Caukin, a spokeswoman for Skype, has a different slant. Caukin said, "Skype made the decision to retire Skype for Asterisk several months ago, as we have prioritized our focus around implementing the IETF SIP [Session Initiation Protocol] standard in our Skype Connect solution. SIP enjoys the broadest support of any of the available signaling alternatives by business communications equipment vendors, including Digium.  By supporting SIP in favor of alternatives, we maximize our resources and continue to reinforce our commitment to delivering Skype on key platforms where we can meet the broadest customer demand.”

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