Microsoft replaces Skype’s ancient Linux client with a web app
Microsoft yesterday launched a brand-new Alpha of Skype for Linux phasing out the old, outdated Skype for Linux application that has been barely updated since mid-2014. The new app uses WebRTC to handle voice calls, “which ensures we can continue to support our Linux users in the years to come.” Skype say the launch of the new Skype for Linux client confirms “our commitment to the Linux community.”
Skype for Linux Alpha can only place voice calls, and only to clients that use the “next-generation calling architecture.” The latest versions of Skype for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS will work fine, but you can’t use Skype for Linux Alpha to call users on the older Skype for Linux client.
The new app will look very different from the old one, points out Microsoft. Indeed, over the last two years, quite a bit has changed in Skype. You will be using “the latest, fast and responsive Skype UI”, and you will be able to share files, photos, and videos, along with a new range of emoticons.
It’s also worth noting that this is an Alpha build, which means that it’s at an even earlier stage than a beta. It might not be a good idea to use this as your main Skype client.
As an alpha version, the new Skype for Linux has a number of limitations. For instance, you can cannot make or take calls to anyone using the previous versions of Skype for Linux (v188.8.131.52), and if you were hoping to be able to place video calls, it doesn’t work either.
A quick list of the things you cannot do in the Skype for Linux alpha:
• No video calls
• No desktop screen sharing
• No support for running two clients at once
• No 32-bit Linux support
However, a quick list of the things that you can do:
• Instant messaging (inc. group)
• One-to-one voice calls
• Group voice calls
• Add contacts
• Use new emoticon packs
The missing features won’t stay missing for long. Skype say they plan to “release an update every 2 weeks or so”, with a view to adding missing features “in the coming months as we move from alpha to beta and then to full general availability.”
The Skype team has also released an Alpha version of Skype based on webRTC for Chromebook and Chrome. Users can now access web.skype.com to make one-on-one and group voice calls in addition to using current messaging features.