Speaking at the Enterprise 2.0 conference this week in Boston
Silicon Alley Insider: How Comcast Ate Vonage's Lunch

Skype launches version 4.1... (yawn)... still only Windows... still a fragmented product strategy

skype_logo.pngSkype today announced Skype 4.1 for Windows. As Raul Liive outlined in a post about the 4.1 beta (see also Jim Courtney's take), this version brings to Windows users the "screen sharing" feature that we've had in the Mac version of Skype for a bit. It also restores several of the features that were in the previous Skype 3.8 for Windows but that got left behind when Skype rushed 4.0 for Windows out the door. And it adds the SILK codec and some other odds and ends.

Per Raul's Skype blog post today, the final 4.1 version fixes a whack-load of bugs as well.

If I were on Windows, I'd definitely head over and download 4.1. The bug fixes alone are probably worth it.

Of course, I'm not on Windows (I'm a Mac user) and so today's announcement is pretty much irrelevant to me. Just as whenever Skype comes out with a new Mac version or beta, it's irrelevant to Windows users. And if by some miracle Skype should actually come out with a new Linux version (no update to their blog in 6 months), that would be irrelevant to both Mac and Windows users.

It's hard to get excited about a new Skype release when regardless of what is new in it, you can generally only use it with people on your platform. Maybe. If they care enough about Skype to download the new version.

Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge Skype fan. It's open for me all the time and I have something like 40+ group chats (IM) open at any time for various projects and teams.

But Skype's continued belief in a fragmented, fractured, siloed platform-specific product strategy is still a path of monumental stupidity, in my opinion. I've ranted about this before. It's still the same.

In contrast, Mozilla comes out with Firefox 3.5 on the same day across all three operating systems. For any given Firefox release, there is tons of attention and interest because everyone can download, try it out, write about it, tweet about it and generally use it. There's a good buzz that can happen.

I know, I know... Firefox is "just a web browser" and Skype is a much more complicated real-time communication tool... etc., etc. And yes, I know that Windows still has the largest market share so it makes sense to focus there to reach the largest % of customers. (Although I'd wonder if that is true of the "influencer"/word-of-mouth/blogging community that seems to have a higher Mac %.) And sure, maybe there is good sense in both those statements. (or not)

Still, as a Skype fan, I'd love for maybe Skype 5.0 to be a release that came out across all platforms and let me share the excitement with Skype users across all the different platforms.

Probably not. But it would be nice.

Meanwhile, if you are a Windows user, you can get 4.1. And if you are a Mac user, you can safely keep ignoring Skype... no update for you, yet.

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