Skype's asterisk move begins its closed future

Just two weeks after the acquisition, Microsoft snips the first cord to the open source world.

When Microsoft announced its purchase of Skype earlier this month, it took great pains to affirm its commitment to continuing support for the technology on platforms other than Windows.

"Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms," the company asserted in its press release on the topic, as alert readers may recall.

I was skeptical back then that it would live up to those words, and sure enough, there's news this week that the cords are beginning to be cut already.

'Skype Has Decided Not to Renew'

"Skype for Asterisk will not be available for sale or activation after July 26, 2011," reads a new product notification from Digium, developer of the software that allows open source telephony system Asterisk to join the Skype network as a native client.

Digium-sponsored Asterisk itself is free and open source, but Skype for Asterisk includes proprietary software from Skype. Now, just two weeks after Microsoft's purchase, "Skype has decided not to renew the agreement that permits us to package this proprietary software," Digium's announcement explains.

Skype will support and maintain existing users of the Skype for Asterisk software for two years after July 26 thanks to an existing agreement with Digium, but after that users will have to find something else.

'Microsoft + Skype = Microsoft'

This is a blow to all the many businesses and governments around the world that rely on Asterisk's flexible and free solution, and it's also a clear signal that, despite its pretty words, Microsoft's Skype has no real intention of "making nice" with the open source world.

Not that it's surprising. How many times have we already heard Redmond proclaim its "love" for open source while doing everything in its power to crush it?

This is more of the same old, same old -- and further proof that business and individual users who don't want to be locked into the Microsoft world should be evaluating the myriad and excellent open source Skype alternatives out there.

After all, as Digium CEO Danny Windham wrote earlier this month, "Microsoft plus Skype equals Microsoft."

Tags Linuxopen sourcetelecommunicationvoipMicrosoftdigiumsoftwarenon-Windowsasteriskoperating systemsskype

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Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)

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