Web & communication software

Skype: Microsoft Didn't Kill Asterisk Support

The tech world is bent out of shape following the revelation that Skype is pulling support for Asterisk--an open source PBX (private branch exchange) platform. While the decision by Skype may be a bit of a shock, the most interesting part is that the world isn't mad at Skype--they're mad at Microsoft.

My PCWorld peer Katherine Noyes tries to never miss an opportunity for Microsoft-bashing no matter how unfounded it may be, so she was quick to jump to the conclusion that Skype abandoning Asterisk is part of an insidious Microsoft conspiracy theory to close the doors on Skype and cut off support for all but Microsoft.

Microsoft is buying Skype, but it doesn't pull the strings at Skype just yet
I expect that kind of unbridled anti-Microsoft sentiment from Ms. Noyes, but sadly she was not alone in blaming Microsoft for the Skype decision. ZDNet's Steven Vaughan-Nichols also jumped on that bandwagon, as did this TechFlash.com article.

I'm sorry, what? Microsoft just announced the plan to purchase Skype for $8.5 billion two weeks ago. It will take months for the deal to pass all of the financial and regulatory hurdles necessary before Skype will actually be a part of Microsoft. For now, the relationship between the two amounts to a press release announcing the intent to purchase. Microsoft does not pull any strings at Skype yet.

Microsoft declined to make any official comment--I assume because it has nothing to do with Skype operations and is not in a position to make any comment about Skype policies and decisions.

I asked Skype to clarify whether or not Microsoft played a role in this decision, and received the following statement from Jennifer Caukin, spokesperson for Skype:

"Skype made the decision to retire Skype for Asterisk several months ago, as we have prioritized our focus around implementing the IETF SIP 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."

Yes, SIP does form the foundation of Microsoft Lync voice communications, but it is also the standard that most VoIP and unified communications platforms are built on. It makes sense for Skype to focus its efforts on the protocol that customers rely on most.

I realize that there is a segment of the population that dislikes Microsoft just because it's Microsoft, but journalists should try to remain more objective than that and keep the blatant, unfounded Microsoft-bashing to a minimum.

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