Update, May 27, 2011 13:22 UTC - Skype moved to offer an updated version for Windows users that doesn’t require to manually follow technical instructions to fix the problem. An update for the Mac version is planned for tomorrow. Linux users probably have to wait a bit longer for an update and are told to stick with the manual instructions.
At 11:22AM GMT / UTC today a major Skype outage hit the internet community all over the world. People from around the planet reported on social networks, that Skype stopped working for them. We also noted the outage. All of a sudden Skype crashed. When starting it again, it immediately crashed upon login. The outage affected users on Windows, Mac OS and Linux, but smartphone clients were apparently unaffected – at least, our Android app continued to work fine.
Around a hour later it started to work again. A lot of users report that they deleted the shared.xml file from the Skype application data folder (similar folders exist on Mac OS and Linux inside the user profile). We noticed, that this is not really required, since after a single crash it will work afterwards. Just make sure you terminate Skype using task manager or similar tools, as on Windows even after crashing the Skype process remains active, pegging a single CPU core and holding access to some files Skype needs.
We tested it repeatedly with a snapshot of the Skype profile right after the crash, it always crashed once and worked afterwards, after terminating the remaining process. This is using the latest 5.3 release of the software. To be on the safe side, follow the instructions posted on the official Skype blog. Skype also announced on Twitter that they plan to offer an easier fix.
As for the reason for the outage, at press time no explanation was given. At 12:38PM UTC, Skype announced on their Twitter feed that they have identified the problem and roll out a fix soon. We hope Skype actually explains the reason of the problem. Remarkably Skype repeatedly mentions that it affects only a small number of users – while we experienced problems on the West Coast and several European countries. The evidence on the internet also suggests otherwise. On Twitter and Facebook a lot of people blamed Microsoft to ruin Skype shortly after buying the company.