This document aims to update Skype users, mostly but not exclusively on Windows, as to the state of Skype, which versions exist and for which situations, and how to move forward as Skype and screen reader users.
A few minutes before I started writing this article, I was informed that Microsoft is officially phasing out Skype 7 for Windows, also known as Skype for Windows Desktop (Classic). Microsoft is replacing this Skype version, which we have used for many years, with two alternatives: Skype 8 for Windows versions older than Windows 10, and Skype UWP for Windows 10. For the technically inclined who might recognize these terms, Skype 8 is an Electron app, and Skype UWP, as the name implies, is a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app.
I started, in mid to late 2017 or so, to predict this Microsoft move. I accordingly scripted Skype UWP and started scripting Skype 8. At this writing, the Skype 8 scripts are not yet released. I believe it safe to say that most or all of us did not expect Microsoft to move quite this fast.
From whatI can tell, Skype 7 for Windows is ceasing to allow login for a growing number of users. This is said to be a deliberate move by Microsoft to force its phasing out and replacement with newer Skype versions. I predict, though without an exact timeline, that Skype 7 will stop working completely in the near future.
If you are running Windows 10 and JAWS 18 or later, or NVDA:
If you use JAWS 17 and cannot get 18 or later, you may be able to run Skype 8 even though running Skype 8 on Windows 10 is not officially supported by Microsoft. To do this, obtain a Skype 8 installer, set it up to run in Windows 8 compatibility mode by going to the Compatibility tab of Properties for the installer file, then run the installer as usual. See the next section for further information on using Skype 8. JAWS 17 and older will not properly support UWP apps, including Skype UWP.
If your JAWS is 16 or older, you will probably need to upgrade JAWS before using Skype on Windows 10.
Note that Freedom Scientific / VFO strongly recommends using JAWS 2018 with Windows 10, as Windows 10 updates, including updates to its Microsoft applications, are now frequent and can require conforming updates to JAWS.
If you are running a Windows version older than Windows 10, or you run Windows 10 with JAWS 17 as discussed in the previous section:
The definitive reference for available keystrokes in the new Skype versions is the Skype Support article entitled What are hotkeys and how do I use them in Skype. Make sure to select correctly from the three tabs at the bottom of that page to get the keystrokes for the Skype version you are using.
For Skype UWP, whether or not you are running my JAWS scripts, reference my Skype UWP script manual section called "Using Skype UWP With JAWS and the Scripts" for further information on screen layout, native commands, and how to accomplish various tasks.
This section is a revision history for this document, so visitors can quickly see what may have been added or updated since reading.