Yesterday, the Mozilla team took the rather drastic step of adding the Skype Toolbar to their "Firefox Blocklist" so that the toolbar is disabled by default (with the user being notified and having the option to re-enable it). Mozilla's reasoning is rather straightforward:
The current shipping version of the Skype Toolbar is one of the top crashers of Mozilla Firefox 3.6.13, and was involved in almost 40,000 crashes of Firefox last week. Additionally, depending on the version of the Skype Toolbar you’re using, the methods it uses to detect and re-render phone numbers can make DOM manipulation up to 300 times slower, which drastically affects the page rendering times of a large percentage of web content served today
Yikes! If it's causing that many crashes, I completely understand their rationale.
What's interesting about this, of course, is that it shows the linkages beyond simply VoIP and communication into the larger ecosystem of applications. Here you have a web browser add-on for a communication product which is then slowing down or crashing the web browser product.
In this brave new world of Unified Communications, or whatever we want to call it, the apps are all linked together... which creates both benefits and, in this case, challenges.
I don't personally use the Skype toolbar, so I don't know how useful or not it was to people out there. It will be interesting to see how Skype responds and whether they will be fixing it soon.
UPDATE: Skype's PR team contacted me with an official response which is similar to what is now published on TechCrunch:
"We are working with Mozilla to ensure that there are no other compatibility issues and to optimize the Skype Toolbar for Firefox, in order to enable the convenience of making Skype calls with one click from Web pages (e.g., calling your favorite pizza place directly from a Google search result). We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused our users.
Based on our initial investigation, we know that downloading the new client will fix any compatibility issues for most users. Users can download the latest Skype client with the latest Toolbars included OR the latest toolbar installer itself is here: http://www.skype.com/intl/en/get-skype/on-your-computer/click-and-call."
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