As a long time user and a paid user of Skype, I’m interested to try out the new beta version 4.0 I downloaded it tonight and so far am slightly impressed AND slightly paranoid at the increase in real-estate it takes on my screen.
Here’s what we have so far:
What’s up with the new splotchy thingy that comes with the new Skype download? It looks like they’re marketing to 12-year olds with this. Then again, they’re very European with their designs anyway. That’s what I’m calling it anyway; Neo-European meets the Power Puff Girls!
New fancy installer… ok seems workable. You don’t download the entire app, which I don’t like. Instead you download a 2.1 mb installer file and it contacts Skype’s servers for the full app. That’s great unless I’m deploying it across a network in which case I have to download the same app 300 times when I could just download it once and save the bandwidth… why do people like the idea of Live installers so much?
New Splash Screen
What’s up with the splash screen? That’s not even full size. What you’re seeing is about 90% of the actual size of the splash screen. I could have done better with the smaller version. And the rainbow? WTF gives with that? Hi, we’re really really hoping to attract the kindergarten market!
If you’re into the whole “read-me” thing, you will find this useful. It pops up each time you load skype unless you uncheck the “Show Welcome Screen at Startup” at the lower left side of the screen. I can deal with this feature. It’s actually helpful considering all the new stuff they’re adding to skype. I clicked on most of them and read through ‘em. They have added Plugins for skype now, recording plugins, outlook integration plugins, etc. I downloaded one that looked really neat, until I saw the full version costs 99 british pounds. Lemme see, that’s about $200.00 US for a plug-in that works on my FREE program, right? Ok.. not sure how long THEY’ll be in business!
New Chat Interface
This I like.. if I could get rid of it. It’s really cool to have complete access to a contact during a chat session, but really all I want to do is chat. Do I need 3/4 of my 22” monitor taken up with a chat screen? You can do just about EVERYTHING from this screen though, see their screen name, their full comment tag (which used to be cut off if it was too long) their web site, contact history, etc, all from one screen.
Private Notifications in Taskbar
This part is pretty cool, I have to admit. The chat notification appears as a number on the taskbar, signifying how many messages or calls you have waiting. When you click on it, you get the little screen shown above. If you double click that screen, you see the large screen shown in the previous picture above.
New Contact Status Icons
This is another change, and a nice one. I can easily see who’s online (Green), who’s “away” (yellow), and who’s an outlook contact (light green with a phone icon).
There are a few things I’ve noticed so far:
- The footprint is a little bigger (46mb running unloaded)
- The Skype plugin manager (skypePM.exe) runs all the time and takes 25 more MB, making Skype now more bulky in its footprint than Yahoo Messenger 9.0 Beta, which has the largest most horrific footprint of all.
- To get to the compact view you have to set it manually rather than it being the default. To do this click on View –> Compact View.
- History: I hate how Skype handles history. I use Skype for work. My clientele contains financial, government, and medical clients. As such, I’m strongly urged to keep logs of all chats for record keeping purposes. However, I definitely don’t want my personal chats archived with my business conversations, so I have disabled the history feature. It doesn’t matter how many times you set it to NOT remember the chat history.. it still does. I’ve got chat histories going back 45 days in my program history, right through two version upgrades, AND i have my Skype set not to save history. When I hit the enter key and send the message, I usually hit the ESC key and clear out the screen. From that point on, I never ever want to see that conversation history again.. usually at least. Why can’t Skype completely disable the history feature? It’s retarded that they’ve kept this bug through the last two versions through hundreds and hundreds of user complaints regarding it. Tonight, I went in and manually cleared the history. After doing so I tried to pull up chat history and poof, there it was again, even after manually clearing it out.
It’s a great telephone and teleconference program, which is 95% of what I use it for, but it’s never going to be a decent messaging appliance until they take user privacy into consideration. They’ve made small steps in this area with the discreet notification area changes, but its still too open. Anyone who has ten seconds at another user’s skype-connected computer can pull their entire chat history. That’s WAY not cool for a lot of my clients, and I’m not too keen on it either. If I just spent ten minutes ranting with a friend about what an ass some guy at work is, the last thing I’d want is that same guy checking into my PC to process an invoice and see my Skype history.
Overall, I give the new version a solid 4.0 out of 10. Bigger, Bulkier, Messier, tons of useless frills but no core changes that reflect user input, gay logo…