Infosec Scribbles

April 9, 2013

How to disable Metro UI in Skype

What Skype looks like starting version 6.3

Since I had automatic updates in Skype enabled, yesterday it updated to version 6.3. As it is very common these days, the interface was “improved” to match other Microsoft’s products in their UI style, Metro UI of Windows 8. I personally can’t stand it, but in previous versions there was a switch in options to use system theme. I decided it was time to *down*grade. If you are looking for how to get rid of Metro UI in Skype and disable annoying update pop-ups, keep reading.

Please keep scrolling if you enjoy Metro UI.

Downgrade your Skype installation

First of all, get the installer of a version that does not use Metro. I found 5.10, but I believe you can use anything on v5 branch. If you try to install it right away it will complain that a newer version is already installed, so go to Control PanelPrograms and Features and uninstall Skype. Don’t worry, your profile and chat history will not get deleted. Once done, install the v5 that you have previously downloaded. Hell yeah, old UI is back! But wait a second, what is this…

...really?

Oh, that’s a pop-up window that will appear every time you start Skype from now on, even if you disable automatic updates in the options menu. Apparently M$ really wants us to deal with their new shitty interface. But fear not, with a couple hacks in place everything is going to be just fine!

Permanently disable automatic updates

First of all, reply Not now in this window. Then, once logged on, go to ToolsOptionsAdvancedAutomatic updates and click Turn off automatic updates. However, this will only stop updates from installing automatically and will not save you from the pop-up window. This is where hacking comes into play.

Open Explorer and browse to C:\Users\your_username\AppData\Local\Temp or just %localappdata%. Find a file called SkypeSetup.exe and go into its properties. Go into Security tab, select your user and click Edit. Now tick everything under Deny and click OK to apply the changes and close the window.

What this does: this prevents your user from accessing the SkypeSetup.exe file, which is the installer of the new version. If the program cannot access the file, it believes that there are no updates for it and leaves you alone.

Restart Skype and you should be fine now.

Alternative methods of disabling automatic updates

I have not tested these separately, but they have been reported to be working by other people on the forums.

Blocking the update servers in the firewall

Open up your firewall and add a rule to block connections to the following IP addresses: 193.95.154.39, 204.9.163.158, 204.9.163.247, 213.166.51.4.

Every time Skype tries to check if there are software updates it will not be able to reach update servers and therefore will not be able to tell you that there is a new version available.

Setting the registry key

Press Windows logo + R, type in regedit and browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Skype\Phone. Most likely it will not exist and you will have to create two new Keys under Policies. Now right click on the Phone key and select NewDWORD. Call it DisableVersionCheck. Double click on it and set the value to 1.

Much better now, kthx!

I personally applied all of these to make sure that updates containing Metro UI are nuked from orbit :)