Microsoft Transitions Skype from Peer-to-Peer to its Azure Cloud
By transitioning Skype from a peer-to-peer architecture to a cloud-based one, Microsoft aims to enable the messaging and file-sharing service to better keep up with changing technologies and user habits.
While the move hasn't been completed yet, changes made so far have already helped support a number of new features on Skype, including mobile group video calling, near-real-time translations of conversations and bots for automated, artificial intelligence-powered services.
The transition to the cloud will help make the service more mobile-friendly and effective across platforms, Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft Skype and Skype for Business, said in a blog post today. However, it also means that Microsoft will be ending Skype support for certain older devices and operating systems over the next few months, he added.
Coming Changes in OS Support
"These decisions are hard to make, but they are necessary as Skype moves forward so we can deliver new experiences on devices that have the capability to support them," Pall said. "As such, we will begin to implement these changes over the coming months."
Among the operating systems Skype will continue to support are Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista, along with Android 4.03 and up, Apple's iOS 8 and up, and Mac Yosemite and later versions.
"By focusing our efforts on the devices and operating systems where the majority of our users are, we can concentrate our efforts on what's most important such as call quality and new features," Pall said. With Microsoft focusing future support on Windows 10 -- in particular, the Universal Windows Platform rolled out last year -- mobile operating systems and the Web-based native version of Skype, users should update Skype to be sure their service continues to offer the latest available features, he added.
More than 300M Monthly Users
Pall noted that Skype's transition to the cloud is "a huge technical endeavor" that's aimed at ensuring the service can keep up with user needs in the years to come. Microsoft expects to complete the move in the coming months while it deals with unexpected technical issues as they arise.
"At times, unforeseen issues have cropped up, like messages not syncing across devices, or delayed notifications," Pall said. "Knowing the impact of these issues for our users, we fix these issues as quickly as we can."
First released in 2003, Skype's voice over IP service used a hybrid architecture of peer-to-peer clients and client-server connections. In fact, co-founder Jaan Tallinn has said the service's name is based on the phrase "sky peer to peer."
Purchased by Microsoft for $8.5 billion in 2011, Skype shifted to a system based on supernodes operated by Microsoft one year later. Earlier this year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Skype had surpassed 300 million active users per month.