Another day I was using Skype. I expected having the same good experience I had had in Linux, but it just couldn't be this way, because I was stuck in Windows.
Is Skype Really Multi-Platform?
When you go to the download page of Skype, it all looks really nice and good. They offer it for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and for several handheld devices. But when we look at the version numbers, a completely different picture emerges:
|Mac OS X||2.7||2008-05-14|
The reality is, that versions for all other OS-es lag far behind the Windows version. The release dates for some are quite recent, but these are probably just bug fixes.
The strange thing is, that they are using Qt, which is a cross-platform GUI toolkit, and therefore should make porting of the interface really easy. And I'm sure, that most of the differences between versions are in the interface.
But why am I whining about it now, when I'm using Windows and can use the latest version of Skype?
The Differences in Interface
The problem is, that in Linux I was really happy with the simple interface that Skype had, but when I logged in to the Windows version I was disgusted. Just look at the differences:
The Windows version is just a bloated piece of ugly crap, while the Linux version is slick and easy to understand. Here is a list of the Windows version "features":
- Greater emphasis on calling (although most users use Skype for simple instant messaging),
- More buttons for functionality that I rarely use.
Additionally they have screwed up the chat window. The chat was my favorite, because the chat log had the smallest amount of clutter I have seen in any IM app. Again, just compare these by yourself:
In Windows the same amount of information takes up a lot more space. Sure, it's prettier, but prettier is often less usable.
But Skype is not the only one in here, who has notably different Windows and Linux versions. Many proprietary software vendors do.
The most astonishing example I've seen is Real Player. Under Windows Real Player is one of the most scariest programs to install. It's huge. It tries to associate it with every file in your file system. It does everything possible to take over your computer. And it looks like this:
The Linux version of Real Player only plays Real Media files. It's small and cute. It follows the UNIX mantra: do only one thing, but do it well. It looks like this:
It looks that Linux users get nice and useful versions of proprietary apps, while Windows users get as much bloat as humanly possible. Therefore we shouldn't be sad that software vendors don't put as much money to the Linux version as they put in the Windows version – it just saves us from bloated software, because bloated software requieres a lot of money to be made, but sleak, small and fast software only flourishes when development resources are severely limited.