More secret Web app details leak on the Net

The magic word is Qzoxy. If it was meant to be a secret, Skype Technologies seems to have forgotten because it has opened up a previously confidential forum on its main site which blows the gaff on the "SkypeMe" buttons you will be able to install next month.

The story isn't meant to be public because the deal with Qzoxy is still under NDA, and the Canadian company won't discuss it. But the deal is that if you want "presence" on your web page, you can get it, with a public beta test through Qzoxy partner Jyve.

The test was announced in a Skype forum and in full (in case they discover the security breach!) says: "Qzoxy Software and Jyve have teamed up to bring advanced Web-based functions and enhancements to the Skype experience through the new Skype API. We would be most appreciative if a few hundred dedicated Skypers could help us test our new server products. You don't need to download or install anything, just register on a forum like this one; and make a couple of test posts, the difference is this forum has a little bit of 'Skype Magic' inside... which we hope to bring to all of you here shortly."

It then gives some simple instructions for setting up the test, and concludes: "I hope you enjoy this sneak peek at Jyve -- http://www.jyve.com -- we can only take 400 Skyper's for this initial bandwidth test so hurry and get in! Thanks for your help, feel free to post any comments or suggestions here and I will be happy to help."

It is signed: Qzoxy Software.

The news appears to have escaped public, as well as Skype's, notice. The software is radical and interesting, but its significance seems to have eluded hardcore voice chatterers -- when we signed up as a tester of the software, we were told that response was slow, and more testers were still needed.

The plan is for users to have a Skype green button up on their website in due course, and if we did it, it would show whether the author of any news story is actually online at any moment. Then we asked, as testers, how it worked.

The answer was that the Qzoxy software puts a "COM wrapper" around the now-public Skype application programming interface. The API was unveiled officially following our earlier story, and is fully disclosed on the Skype web pages but, as we reported then, is highly technical C++ code.

The way the Jyve software works is to put up a graphic and a script which polls a "community server" -- in this case, the Jyve server - to see if the Skype user is online, or "busy" or in any of a half dozen possible states -- and then adjusts the graphic to show that status.

The user picks the list of community servers and adds user ID of the server to their list of approved chat buddies, thus enabling them to read user status. Then that gets passed on to any website using that information -- thus restricting the number of people who can actually get on that user's contact list, but giving a wider group the ability to see who they are.

Neither Qzoxy nor Jyve felt able to make any comments, ahead of Skype's announcement, which is expected in the second week of November, according to other beta-testers we spoke to.

Qzoxy founder, Bill Campbell said only that he was "surprised" to hear that the beta test was public. He wouldn't say any more, but a quick google of his name and "skypeme" plus a few phone calls, found something called "theptcompany" which illustrates that if this is the same Bill Campbell, then Campbell himself, at least, is testing the software.

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Guy Kewney

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