Why Should We Write Universal Apps When Microsoft Drops Them - Skype To Go Desktop Only
Why Should We Write Universal Apps When Microsoft Drops Them - Skype To Go Desktop Only
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 12 June 2015

Just when you think things are settling down something happens to make you wonder - wat? Microsoft, after putting a lot of effort into persuading us that Universal Apps are the way of the future pulls the plug on Skype modern app to leave just the desktop version. This makes no sense at all.

skype

The split in Windows apps created by the launch of Windows 8 still persists today and Microsoft is currently trying to fix this huge blunder by creating a true Windows 10 Universal App that can run on desktop, phone and mobile. At the moment the state of Universal App development for Windows 10 isn't good but it is getting better. Microsoft's argument is that any WinRT apps that you have or old style Windows 8 Universal apps can easily be converted to a Windows 10 Universal app with a single code base for all platforms. 

In short Windows 10 Universal Apps are the way of the future.

Of course they aren't 100% universal and it is doubtful if they will ever run on Windows 7 or earlier so, ironically, in opting to write a Universal App you are restricting your market to essentially Windows 10 - but this is the future - according to Microsoft.

Skype is one of Microsoft's flagship products and it has been available as a desktop Win32 app and as a Modern/Metro/WinRT app for some time. The WinRT app is presumably not a universal app for Window 8 or, even less likely, for Windows 10, but according to Microsoft if you have such an app then it is easy and worth while to port it to Windows 10 Universal App.

However the Skype team have just announced that they are discontinuing the WinRT version of Skype and concentrating on the desktop Win32 version. According to the Skype blog:

"Starting on July 7, we’re updating PC users of the Windows modern application to the Windows desktop application, and retiring the modern application."

Yes that quick! Less than a month and the "modern app" will be gone. 

 

SkypeModern

 

The reason given for this sudden decision is no where near convincing:

"With the upcoming release of Windows 10 for PCs, it makes sense to use the Skype application optimized for mouse and keyboards use, capable of doing touch as well rather than 2 separate applications performing the same function."

So with the upcoming release of Windows 10 the Skype team turn down the opportunity to create a Windows 10 Universal App that will run on all new Microsoft platforms to go back to their desktop app. The point about desktop version would be capable of working with touch and mouse input but this is also a claimed strength of the new Universal Apps. 

Could it be that the real reason is that the Skype team see the desktop app as being more universal than a Windows 10 Universal App? 

Skype already have a Windows Phone 8 app which presumably is a different code base to the WinRT app that runs under Windows 8. The Windows 8 Phone app would in theory just run on Windows Mobile (aka Windows Phone 10) without any work. Upgrading the current WinRT app to Windows 10 Universal Apps would give Skype something that worked on Windows 10 - phone, tablet and desktop - but they already have the desktop and phone app that covers these. A Windows 10 app would give them something that worked on older versions of Windows so by supporting it they have another code base to manage. However if they simply support the Win32 app into the future it runs on all versions of Windows without any extra effort.

So what would you do? Write a Windows 10 Universal App and have to manage a Win32, Windows Phone 8 and Universal App or simply stick with the Win 32 and Windows Phone 8?

It could be that Windows 10 Universal Apps aren't quite universal enough - at least until Windows 10 gets a good market share, or should that be if Windows 10 gets a good market share. 

Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 Universal Apps as the development platform for now and the future but its Skype team have just pointed out the flaw in this reasoning. 

Or is there another explanation?

What ever this is not a good example of dog fooding and puts in doubt any decision you might have made about being an early adopter for Windows 10 apps - if Microsoft can't get behind the plan why should we?

skype

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Last Updated ( Friday, 12 June 2015 )
 
 

   
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