updated 02:44 am EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
Minimum Intel processor, 10.6 requirement follows eight years of updates
As a confirmation of earlier reports that Skype was locking out users of very old Macs with OS versions below 10.6 Snow Leopard, Microsoft on Thursday issued a memo that confirmed and clarified that it no longer supported the nearly seven-year-old OS X 10.5.8 or any lower releases on the Mac, and that Skype's service now requires a minimum of an Intel processor and 10.6 or later in order to work. How long Snow Leopard will be supported is unclear.
The memo, signed by an otherwise-unspecified Skype staffer named Rene in a Skype support forum, starts by assuring users that "no-one is locking you out from using Skype on OS X 10.6-10.8, and there is no need to upgrade to Mavericks or (the new OS X now in dev preview) Yosemite if you don't want to." She continues that version 6.15 of the program, long lambasted for its poor UX design, is still available for users running 10.6, 10.7 (Lion) or 10.8 (Mountain Lion). Rene describes the release as "very solid" and says that it offers "all of the main features without any problems (i.e. group video, group chats, screen sharing, et cetera)." That said, she encourages users to "stay up to date, meaning upgrading to Mavericks and getting the latest Skype."
Users who were on machines so old that they do not have an Intel processor and thus cannot run Snow Leopard are, however, left hanging, as there is little option for them - and the company gave such users no warning of the termination of service, though this is becoming more common past the five- or six-year mark of support. Admittedly, the percentage of active users still on such older systems is thought to be less than two percent of Mac users, but given the size of the base, this still amounts to hundreds of thousands of potential Skype customers.
Some users who got word of the change in policy early enough have been able to block the software's auto-update service, allowing some functionality to remain for now on Leopard, but the solution has been described as "hit-or-miss," according to AppleInsider. The company is also forcibly retiring users on Windows who are still using version 6.14 or earlier.
The current version of the software is v6.19. As there is no obvious technical reason why support couldn't continue, Microsoft may be dropping support due to security concerns instead, as the OS versions affected by the change no longer receive any kind of security update from Apple or most developers.