Web & communication software

Skype and Facebook: Together at Last on (Some) Corporate Networks

It should come as some relief for Skype fans to learn that the company has fixed the frustrating bug that caused Skype 5.0 and 5.1 to spawn multiple browser windows popping up, when used with Facebook on some corporate and educational networks.

The company initially responded to this PCWorld Business Center report about this issue last week with a report that they had fixed this problem on the server side shortly after it appeared in late January. But on further investigation, it turned out that the fix required an update to Skype's Windows client software.

That update, Skype 5.2, will begin rolling out around noon Eastern Time on March 3, but the phased rollout may take a couple of weeks to propagate to Skype users worldwide.

On the upside, I tested an advanced release of Skype 5.2, and it fixed the vexing issue that for more than five weeks has been bugging the group that I support. On the downside, the company plans a phased release that will provide Skype 5.2 for download at Skype.com gradually, based on the region from which the user connects to the company's Website.

The problem with the Skype software only came to light in special circumstances, but it was typically in corporate networks that block access to social media sites. Skype 5 integrates closely with Facebook, which involves pinging the Facebook site when Skype starts up. A lack of adequate error trapping in the Skype client meant that if the browser couldn't connect to Facebook, it would spawn another window to try again. All failures to connect would spawn a new window and suck resources from the machine, cascading error reports in browser windows in a convincing facsimile of a virus.

"The problem was caused by an update we made in our infrastructure," explained Skype spokesperson Kim Milosevich. "Users will need to go to Skype.com for the new download, which will not be available to all users immediately. It will start reaching users on March 3rd and reach everyone within a few weeks."

Until Skype 5.2 is available to everyone who visits Skype.com, we continue to suggest that computers on corporate networks disable Facebook integration--a two-click process in the Skype 5 client. It's a tricky fix to make, as the Skype window keeps getting blocked by new Internet Explorer windows and the ever-spawning windows suck system resources from Windows, but it beats the alternative: Not running Skype at all.

Matt Lake is an author, award-winning technology journalist and technical services coordinator in the field of education.

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