Recent Skype versions freeze with a screen reader active
In an update of Skype released last year, I believe 8.54, the support for split view for chats was introduced. Ever since this update, the experience for screen reader users was really bad. Note that to reproduce this behaviour, you must have split view disabled.
With any screen reader active, personally tested with Narrator, NVDA and Jaws, pressing enter on a chat will often cause the app to freeze for a large period of time, up to 15 seconds. During this period, no keyboard navigation is possible and the whole app is unresponsive.
The same freeze can be reproduced while reading a group chat with many messages, after scrolling past 15 or 20 messages, the app will freeze in the same way.
Hopefully, this issue can soon be fixed, as it is really unacceptable that screen reader users are dealing with this lag for over half a year.
Nikola Jović commented
if I understand correctly, version 8.65 is still in preview and not officially released. I am using the desktop app, downloadable from https://download.skype.com/s4l/download/win/Skype-22.214.171.124.exe
I have however tried the store app (even though I think they are the same now), and the issue definitely still occurs.
Then I have downloaded the preview version of Skype 8.65 (the desktop app), and the freezing issue is still occuring in that version too. I am unable to verify on the store version, because to get the preview of that app, as far as I understand you need to sign up as a Windows insider.
On the web version, accessible from https://web.skype.com/ the freezing issue never occured. There, the chats have always opened without any lag, so that remains to be the case. So this issue is exclusive to the store and desktop apps.
Hope that was clear, let me know if any further clarifications are needed.
Thanks for sharing this feedback with us Nikola. Are you on Skype version 8.65? If you're able to update to that version the Skype app should work as expected. Please let us know if that isn't the case.
Also quick question are you on the Skype app from the Windows store or the Skype app on the web?
Storm Productions Music commented
I can definitely confirm that this issue occurs with my NVDA 2019.2.1 as well, on a Windows 10 1909 laptop.
Hopefully this can be dealt with.
Nikola Jović commented
Absolutely, I'd be more than happy in assisting to reproduce the issue.
In this case, let's try with NVDA, latest version, 2020.2 at this time, though as I said the same behaviour is observed with both Jaws and Narrator.
I am running the latest version of Windows 10, 2004.
Here are the exact steps, using the keyboard commands.
First, make sure Skype is running.
Press alt plus 1 to focus the recent chats list.
Note: It may be necessary to first turn on NVDA's focus mode so the app can process commands. If the command does not work, press NVDA plus space to go to focus mode. This is normal.
After you find a chat you would like to read, press enter to open it.
As long as the split view option is disabled, you should observe that the app will stop responding to any keyboard commands, for example pressing tab to move the focus to another option.
Note: In recent versions of Skype, the app might actually respond, but this is only temporary for a few seconds, so you may find that pressing tab will actually move the focus to the next option, but if you try again the app will be frozen for the short period of time I mentioned above.
Sometimes, you won't observe the lag when you open the first chat in the current Skype session, so if you can't reproduce the issue, try opening 1 or 2 other chats in the recent chats list, and that should definitely trigger it.
Let me know if any further clarification is needed or anything additional I can submit to help fix this problem.
Thanks for sharing this feedback with us Nikola, we have a few questions about your post:
1. Could you share with us the Windows version you're on?
2. Could you share the version of the screen readers you're using?
3. Could you share the steps you're taking to repro this issue (i.e. the keyboard commands you're trying to use while the app is frozen)?
Please let us know if additional assistance or clarification is needed.