Skype defends axing of Skype for Asterisk

Skype decided to retire Skype for Asterisk before the company's takeover by Microsoft, the company said on Wednesday as commentators raised suspicions over the axing.Asterisk is an open-source software PBX platform that gained Skype interoperability in 2009.

Skype decided to retire Skype for Asterisk before the company's takeover by Microsoft, the company said on Wednesday as commentators raised suspicions over the axing.

Asterisk is an open-source software PBX platform that gained Skype interoperability in 2009. However, its owner Digium said earlier this week that Skype had decided not to renew the agreement that lets Digium use Skype's proprietary software, which is essential to the product. As a result, Skype for Asterisk sales and activations will cease on 26 July.

"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," Digium said. "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's decision immediately raised suspicions among many commentators, such as Steven Vaughan-Nichols of the US ZDNet site. "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," he wrote on Wednesday.

"It doesn't require a genius to see what the Microsoft and Skype are doing," Vaughan-Nichols added. "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?"

However, Skype said in a statement on Wednesday that it "made the decision to retire Skype for Asterisk several months ago, as we have prioritised our focus around implementing the IETF SIP standard in our Skype Connect solution".

"SIP enjoys the broadest support of any of the available signalling alternatives by business communications equipment vendors, including Digium," Skype said. "By supporting SIP in favour 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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