This has been coming for ages, of course, we've reported on it at length, in stories:
Skype, acquired by Microsoft five years ago, has been a product in transition for almost all its life. As you might expect, given the number of platforms that it runs on, each evolving. A few years back we saw the cessation of updates for Skype for Symbian, followed, a year or so later, by the product simply stopping working. It seems that the old Windows Phone 8.1 Skype app is in much the same boat now, with Skype announcing that they're not going to continue to develop it going forwards and that it will stop working at some point in the future (hopefully with a little notice!)
'While support will no longer be available from October 2016, the Skype app on Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 will continue to work (possibly with some limitations) until early 2017, when we finish moving Skype calling to the cloud (see Skype blog).'
Microsoft's plans for Skype are progressing apace, it seems. We knew that the old Windows Phone 8.1 client was being withdrawn and wouldn't be officially supported from this month onwards. And if you go to the Store right now on an 8.1-running phone you won't find Skype at all - you can't even go via a web link since that also now gets redirected to the newer Skype UWP client, which of course doesn't work on Windows Phone 8.1. Having said that, almost every 8.1 user already has Skype installed already because it came with the phone's initial application set - users should just be aware that if they hard reset their phones then Skype won't come back as part of the restore.
The 8.1 Skype application should carry on working for a few months yet, it's certainly fully functional on my own 8.1 devices as of today. I'd estimate that things will break in the Spring when Redstone 2 hits in the Windows 10 Mobile world and when all sorts of things get reconfigured server-side.
And this weekend's Skype blog post says:
Because we want to provide our users with the best possible Skype experience, necessary changes must be made along the way. So, beginning March 1, users running older versions of Skype for Windows desktop (7.16 and below) or Skype for Mac (7.0 to 7.18) will no longer be able to sign in. If you’re one of those users, all you’ll need to do is download the new update. For more information on which devices and operating systems Skype currently supports, please check our support site.
Although old mobile versions aren't mentioned explicitly, I'd lay good money that March 1st also marks the point where the server changes mean that the old Windows Phone 8.1 Skype client will finally stop working.
Mind you, as I said in one of the stores above:
Which is about as expected. And returning to my theme above, anyone with a 2012/2013 Windows Phone 8.1-only phone (i.e. can't be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile and UWP compatibility) can't really complain that one of the Internet services on the phone stops working 4-5 years later. In the mobile world, that's an eternity. And 99% of those Windows mobile users who use Skype day to day will definitely be on a UWP-capable device by 'early 2017'.
So this isn't a non-story, but equally it's unlikely to affect too many active Skype users across the world.
Peer to peer is dead, long live the 'cloud'. Heh!