Web & communication software

Skype Down Again--Is Microsoft to Blame?

Skype has suffered another outage--its second service hiccup in about as many weeks. The timing of Skype's issues seems somewhat coincidental since it follows in the wake of the announcement that Microsoft is buying Skype for $8.5 billion.

So, is Microsoft at fault for Skype's woes? The short answer is "no". At this point, the relationship between Microsoft and Skype amounts to a handshake and a press release announcing the proposed acquisition. But, the purchase has to get approval of the boards and shareholders on both sides, and pass regulatory hurdles before it will be official. It will be months before Microsoft actually has any day to day involvement in Skype operations.

Since the announcement that Microsoft is buying it, Skype seems to be experiencing more frequent issues.
According to the Skype heartbeat blog, the service suffered an outage today as a result of a configuration error on their servers. "We've identified the cause of the problem, and have begun to address it. If you've been affected, you should start to see improvement in the next hour or so. You shouldn't need to manually sign back in to Skype--it should reconnect automatically when it's able to do so."

When millions of users were unable to connect a couple weeks ago, Skype identified a corruption issue as the root cause. Skype provided a manual workaround for users, and pushed out updates for the different platforms to address the problem.

In both cases, Skype was able to identify and resolve the issue relatively quickly, and in both cases Microsoft had nothing to do with the root cause of the problem--at least not directly. However, it still seems suspicious that Skype--which had run fairly smoothly prior to the Microsoft acquisition announcement--is suddenly experiencing these issues.

How did the corruption occur? What cause the configuration issue? I asked Skype whether there might be some connection between the Microsoft news and these service outages. There is no love lost between the open source community and Microsoft, and the news that Microsoft is acquiring Skype might make Skype a target for hackers. Basically, I am curious if it is possible that these "issues" are actually attacks of some sort being leveled at Skype as a result of its relationship with Microsoft?

A Skype spokesperson responded to say that this was a minor issue that has been resolved by Skype. So, Skype assures me these are not "attacks", and does not believe in the theory that Microsoft is related in any way.

I can accept that for now--especially since no hacker groups have stepped forward to claim responsibility for any of the Skype issues. But, if it happens a third time any time soon, the coincidence will be that much harder to rationalize away.

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