Skype users around the world have been left puzzled by Microsoft's announcement that the service is currently not working properly. A handful of users have complained that they have experienced synchronised audio and video streams with people that they've called, but for most people, the system is working as usual.
"I often use Skype to repeatedly attempt to communicate with my parents", explained Brian Glinner, a 34 year-old IT specialist. "In normal circumstances, I generally have to give in to the inevitable after half an hour or so and use the phone instead. But I've noticed some strange behaviour in the last day or so: only yesterday, my mother answered within a minute of me calling, and we could hear each other perfectly. We even made eye contact, it was horrible."
Other users complained about the audio quality. "It's very disconcerting to hear someone answer just after you've asked a question", said Glenda Frisson, a manager from Bath. "A strange, echoey delay is important to give people time to think. But it's the clarity that is the real problem. When I'm speaking with our overseas contacts, it is imperative that we don't fully understand each other. Already this week I have made three commitments to project deadlines, that were understood by my customers. It's beyond a joke".
Other 'VOIP' services have experienced similar problems. With increasing network speeds, and access to more stable internet connections, experts in reluctant communications are warning that stable, audible conversations could well become the norm in the near future. "The situation is becoming so desperate, I know of at least four people who have moved to remote rural locations, just to escape the uninterrupted tales of their family members dreary, day-to-day tedium", said David Mumble, a professor of ambiguous speech. "I've heard of one man that has even gone back to dial-up".
Customers who are experiencing similar problems have been given advice by Microsoft on how to maintain normal communications. People with camera phones should smear the lens with vaseline, and shout at the handset from a separate room. If calling from a landline, numbers should be dialled at random, and people are advised to hang up part-way through any interesting conversations.