|Musings of an Internet Marketing Consultant|
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
VoIP and a Windows Audio flaw
OK, so this is a dream configuration but came closer to reality with all the announcements at CES last week. In the course of this search I have acquired and been evaluating a Linksys CIT200 Skype phone and a PhoneGnome setup.
The Linksys CIT200 Skype Phone brought home a fundamental problem with Windows that was first mentioned by Martin Geddes in a recent Telepocalypse post:
“I bought a Plantronics DSP-400 USB headset a while back. It came ‘Skype certified’ together with a small SkypeOut credit. I’m still happy with it. But it’s also very annoying to use. Because I like to listen to music from my laptop with real, quality headphones. Sometimes I unplug the headset when I move my laptop about, or want to use it on another PC, and Windows takes note and resets my audio devices to point to the built-in stuff. No matter how often I set my preferences in Skype to “Plantronics headset”, it keeps being turned back to Windows default each time I unplug. This is, needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), not a good experience.”
My Linksys Skype Phone also came with small SkypeOut credit (which readily got added to my already implemented SkypeOut credits). However, the Windows audio setup is something else. When you install the software for the Skype Phone, it automatically changes both your Skype "Sound Devices" Options and your default Windows audio device to “CIT200” (from my normal SigmaTel Audio that drives my onboard or headset speakers/microphone. In this mode, none of the traditional audio will work (at least provide audio to my headset/laptop speakers). If I change the Windows default back to SigmaTel Audio, the Skype Phone sees the Skype Contacts; but the audio does not work. After trying various Windows Audio configurations I found:
Of course I also have several different physical devices for making the audio connection:
I would like to see a Windows client that:
And a piece of (USB-connected) hardware that can have the various headsets as inputs (microphone) and outputs (speakers or earpieces), software selectable from the Windows client above.
And, of course, to meet all my requirements, Skype for Outlook Toolbar and Skype for Internet Explorer Toolbar with appropriate API’s.
Will anyone take up the challenge? Skype (via their certification program requirements)? Linksys? Plantronics? PhoneGnome? D-Link? Creative? Any of those new (Skype hardware) vendors showing at CES? Or even Microsoft (maybe an opportunity for hardware along the lines of how the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard products have become a market staple.)?
And, Microsoft, will you be able to address what amounts to a fundamental flaw in Windows Audio with respect to having a much more user friendly way to switch amongst audio devices than “Control Panel > Sounds and Audio Devices, select the Audio Tab and use the drop down boxes?” Not only for Windows Vista but also backwards compatible to Windows XP and 2000?
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