Want to become a Skype user but not sure what its pros and cons are? Or, are you a long-time user who wants to justify using the software over its alternatives? Whatever the case, it’s essential to understand the product’s positive and negative sides, even if it’s free. The software is around for over two decades and had 50 million users within two years, and over 600 million by 2010. It then changed hands in a multi-billion dollar deal a year later. But does its financial worth translate to value for customers, and what are the drawbacks? We studied the advantages and disadvantages of Skype to find out.
Advantages of Skype
Skype is a globally recognized VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) software with several notable upsides:
1. Skype is easy to install and works cross-platform
Skype, primarily known as video conferencing and VoIP software, has a simple, intuitive installation procedure and excellent platform support. Hundreds of millions of people, including non-tech-savvy ones, use Skype software on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. Besides compatibility with computers, tablets, and phone operating systems, it has web and Amazon Alexa applications and works on Xbox, Microsoft’s gaming console. Therefore, users can effortlessly connect from nearly anywhere and chat, call, video conference, hold interviews, join meetings, and use cellular-type features (call and send SMSes) using Skype Credit.
2. It is a reputable, reliable free software
Users don’t have to pay to create an account or use the basic features Skype offers—a key benefit of its use. That means both individuals and businesses can leverage its potential for communications, whether on the go, at home, or in the office. Additionally, Microsoft, a renowned software company, owns it and even paid $8.6 billion for it in 2011, which adds credibility. That means users can expect profile security, longevity, stability, timely bug fixes, new features, and free use (likely) forever. Paid aspects of the software start at a few dollars. Plus, the price only increases with more features, meaning users aren’t paying for what they don’t need.
3. Its technology allows supports a variety of communication types
We already hinted at this, but Skype offers a wide variety of ways to communicate, including:
- HD audio and video Skype calls with one or up to 100 participants around the world via the Internet
- Calls to landlines, mobile phones, and Skype phone numbers using Skype Credit at low rates
- Custom Skype Numbers in 25 regions or countries as a phone number alternative
- SMSes from Skype Number to all supported devices
- Texting other Skype profiles for free with features such as emojis, tagging, and end-to-end encryption
- Skype groups for chatting, audio, and video calling
- Sharing your computer or mobile device screen
- Uploading files (max. 300 MB at once) in conversations
- Scheduling and holding interviews or meetings with audio, video, and text
- Recording Skype meeting calls and storing them for 30 days after they took place
All these work 24/7/365, and help users hold discussions, show presentations, stay in touch with friends, family, and loved ones, and even use Skype for business purposes. Skype Credit can stay indefinitely. However, it has an inactivity clause—an account has to perform an action such as calling or texting at least once every 180 days to prevent deactivation.
4. Skype supports live subtitles and background effects
One of the biggest benefits of Skype to multinational users is its translation add-ons. Skype Translator is a built-in feature that helps users translate texts, voice calls, and video calls in real time. Their text translator works in over 60+ languages, while the voice translator works in over 30 languages. Furthermore, Skype introduced background effects, letting you blur your background or add custom backgrounds during video calls. That eliminates the need to use extra software or do post-production video editing, yet helps users look professional.
5. Skype can facilitate anonymity
Although most users will use their Microsoft account to register for Skype since it’s convenient, that’s not the only option. First, users can create a Skype account with their phone number, whether real or one of Skype Numbers. Again, the majority of users provide their real information to help others recognize their profile. However, nothing stops you from entering bogus or vague information. Moreover, besides employing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or proxy service to register, users can take advantage of Skype’s support for proxy routing via HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and SOCKS5 protocols. These let users encrypt their conversations and help them hide their identity and location.
Disadvantages of Skype
Although things look great for Skype on the surface, it also has minor downsides worth mentioning:
1. It requires stable, powerful Internet service and sometimes Skype Credit
Whether you use a Skype account or buy one of Skype Numbers, you need an Internet connection to use everything they offer. While Wi-Fi and 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G cellular communications technologies are mostly readily available, not all places in the world have access. Even if you catch the signal, Skype requires decent download and upload speeds to maintain acceptable video and audio quality. Additionally, making calls or sending SMS to other phone numbers via the software requires you to buy Skype Credit. Thus, using a cheap local SIM card may be a better option for texting and audio calls in some areas.
2. Skype lacks many advanced security features
Skype communicates over the Internet, so data traffic can be spied on or intercepted. Luckily, they introduced Skype-to-Skype AES 256-bit and TLS encryption of texts, audio and video call traffic, and file upload data. However, they cannot encrypt the calls Skype users make to mobile devices and landline phones. Besides that, they lack security features that stop cyberbullying and the spreading of illegal files, making Skype a poor choice for children or young teens.
They also don’t have any form of inbuilt scanning for malicious data. That has caused the appearance of “Skype Virus”, a generic name for a host of dangerous events or files. For example, a user that clicks on a malicious URL not only downloads the hazardous file, but the virus forwards the link to all their contacts. Finally, it has no or limited emergency calling features, depending on the country, something Skype Numbers users must know upfront.
3. Advanced features require a premium account
Skype offers a plethora of features for free and has been essential for individuals and small businesses. Even products such as Skype Manager, Skype for Business, and Skype for content creators are complimentary. However, several heavily advertised features require money. To call or text landlines and mobile devices, you either have to pay a monthly subscription or use Skype Credit, a pay-as-you-go option. Skype Number is also a paid feature, but unlike a SIM card, you pay monthly to keep it, for 1, 3, or 12 months at a time.
4. Its prolonged use can cause health problems
We pointed out that Skype lets users text, audio call, or video chat with others, up to 100 users at once, and use Skype Number as a mobile phone number replacement. In short, video conferencing software has a big advantage; it allows people to communicate without leaving their homes. That can cause some people to become addicted or at least heavily reliant. Those users may turn into shut-ins that avoid face-to-face conversations, traveling to work, and physical activity, and incur physical and mental health problems.
5. There are plenty of Skype alternatives
Skype used to be the go-to software for texts, voice and video calls, and file sharing in the early 2000s. Nowadays, there are many Skype alternatives that are superior in some aspects, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Cisco Webex. Thus, users see their friends or business teams move off the platform all the time.