Microsoft’s “Skype Meetings” Fail
Here is how to acquire a perfectly good technology, Skype, and morph it into such a horrendously bad user interface (UI) kludge as to make it a running joke in tech circles. Virtually everyone I know is quitting Skype and is using an alternative*.
I’ve used Skype for over ten years. The Windows and Mac versions were never the same, but they were both standalone clients and it was relatively easy for me (on a Mac) to coach someone (on Windows) on how to use the platform and I frequently used it for collaboration. Not anymore!
The UI on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, the Web and now this God-awful-excuse-for-meetings, Skype Meetings, are each different and seem to change frequently. The only way for someone to coach someone through getting set up and using Skype in any form is to actually have that version (and device) in front of them. Otherwise it’s basically impossible to tell someone what to do and what to click to get the thing to work (or do something simple like screensharing).
If you don’t believe me, click on these screenshots from Google images showing the explosion of UIs for Skype:
Don’t believe me that it is hard to coach someone on how to use Skype? Windows has standalone clients (XP, 7, 8) and Metro UI in 8.1 and the new Win10 version, but ALL OF THEM ARE DIFFERENT so try telling a friend, family member or colleague the process of setting up their audio input and speakers and then sharing their screen with you. Go ahead….I’ll wait.
Oh…you couldn’t do it, heh? Then try finding and sending them a URL for their particular version. Oh….there are at least half a dozen places on the Skype site to find how-to information so that doesn’t make it any easier.
My guess is that Skype Meetings is supposed to change all of that by leveraging Skype’s audio, video and screensharing in to a single platform. If my experience trying to get setup today is any indication, THAT certainly won’t happen!
Today’s attempt to get set up with Skype Meetings was the last straw for me with Skype. Microsoft’s clusterf$#k of an install process was THE most confusing one I’ve yet encountered, even from a startup (and Microsoft has a couple of bucks to test this out first, I would think), and I’ve installed literally thousands of apps over the years.
Here is what the experience was like:
- Went to Skype Meetings in Safari and signed up (with a different email than my Office 365 account…and did so on purpose to see what a non-Microsoft user would experience)
- The site did a forced download of a Mac .dmg (disk image) with the Skype Meeting App.app to install (and I installed it)
- The webpage didn’t refresh (which it should have) so I then launched the Skype Meeting App.app and this is what I was presented with:
WTF? I don’t have a “Meeting URL” kids. Refreshing the Skype Meetings page manually forced another download. Seriously. No way to move forward.
The only way I could get to a page with a “Meeting URL” I could copy-and-paste in to this lone box was to use Google’s Chrome and go to Skype Meetings again, sit through another forced download and them telling me I’d already registered, and then an Office 365 page came up with a Meeting URL…finally.
Because Microsoft is constantly f*&king around with Skype—trying this, trying that, changing the UIs, delivering it in a browser and full screen in Windows 10, on mobile devices with no seeming logic—there is no way people can develop a muscle memory and just use Skype!! Plus Microsofties, we do not want to learn and relearn your “UI of the week” just to use your little, insecure-with-backdoors communications platform.
So here is what I suggest you do and do it now:
a) Decide on a single UI and make it a standard.
b) Create design guidelines so others making Skype shit will follow along and stick to the standard.
c) Don’t expect that Skype is so damn great that, no matter how much you screw with it and make it almost impossible to use, that your lemmings users will just follow along and accept it.
So long Skype.
*Here are some alternatives to Skype:
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.