Microsoft is retiring Skype 7.4. Here’s important information for JAWS users

On 1 September, Microsoft will stop supporting Skype 7. This is the version of Skype most of us have been using in recent years, and for which scripts are included with every copy of JAWS. It is our expectation that this withdrawal of support will mean that Skype 7.4 will no longer connect to the service at all.

To continue to use Skype, you’ll need to upgrade to something newer. The next time you update, you’ll get a new version that has a completely new user interface presenting as a web page inside Chrome.

The best way to interact with this updated version is with the virtual cursor turned off. You can turn it off manually each time the Skype window gains focus by pressing Insert+z, but we realize that this will be inconvenient.

That’s why prior to September 1, when Skype 7.4 is retired, we’ll be releasing a JAWS 2018 update that ensures that the virtual cursor is off when Skype is in focus.

Microsoft has a document detailing hotkeys for Skype 8. We suggest reading it before you perform the upgrade.

We’ll go even further. We know many people rely on Skype in a professional capacity and to keep in touch with family and friends. We’re using the power of JAWS scripting to create the most efficient screen reader experience with Skype, by adding some additional optimization that will be useful when working with Skype 8.

For those of you on Windows 10, there is also a version of Skype available from the Windows Store. Feel free to try it if you’re feeling adventurous, but we’re going to focus our attention on Skype 8 because it can be installed on all Windows versions and is therefore available to all JAWS users.

Our objective is to ensure that our users can continue to use Skype once 7.4 stops working, so there are some time constraints about our initial support and there may be some rough edges to begin with. We’ll build on the August support over time, including improvements coming in JAWS 2019.

We would like to extend our thanks to Doug Lee, a valued member of our JAWS scripting community, for the work he has already done on scripting this version of Skype, and his willingness to share his experiences and concepts with us so that all JAWS users benefit.