"Skype is going open source!" screamed the headlines over the weekend. If only. While Skype has acknowledged an interest in making its Linux client open-source, this may not mean very much in practice.
I love Skype and use it daily for both instant messaging and voice calls. Its quality is superb and the Skype team continues to enrich Skype's functionality (now including the ability to screen-share and video chat).
Open source won't help with this. Not in the way Skype means.
As ZDNet captures, Skype isn't planning to open-source its underlying protocols, and certainly not its back-room server technology. Instead, it's just talking about open-sourcing the Skype graphical user interface (GUI). And only for its Linux client, apparently. Snore.
First of all, why only Linux? Open source long ago stopped being the exclusive province of Linux, if it ever was. Without Mac OS X and Windows support, Skype is actually locking itself out of the vast majority of the market for software developers.
And then there's the question of what is being open-sourced: GUI code? Really? That's it? No protocols? Does Skype think developers simply want to add fuzzy dice to the UI? It's not really Skype's fault, as ZDNet explains, because its source code is in legal no man's land right now. You can't open what you don't own.