8

I have an old Hotmail account that Microsoft converted to an Outlook.com account. Starting a few days ago, I have been blocked from access to my email (via Microsoft.com web access), by a pop-up that requires action on a Skype account. I have been unable to block or bypass this pop-up:

Skype Popup

Full size link here.

I don't have a Skype account, don't want a Skype account, and don't want to agree to any terms regarding a Skype account. The pop-up options are sign-in or sign-up, and the "continue" button signifies acceptance of terms.

I've found posts online describing a possible solution of removing or opting out of Skype integration from within an existing Skype account, but that requires creating an account. I also found advice online for modifying the Windows registry to remove Skype, but I use Linux, so that's not a help.

I managed to get into my Outlook.com user profile before the pop-up loaded, but the only option there was similar access to signing up. I logged into Skype with the Outlook.com credentials. However, since I don't have a Skype account, it took me to a Skype sign-in/sign-up screen:

Skype signup screen

If I simply click on the green "I have a Skype account" button, it takes me back to the previous login screen, a vicious circle.

Is there a way to completely remove Skype association from Outlook.com so I can simply access my email, or is there now no email access if I don't create a Skype account?


Addendum

According to this article, Microsoft replaced Messenger with Skype in Outlook.com, using the Messenger infrastructure. This article discusses the Skype software no longer being necessary; it's been replaced by a browser plugin. It describes the signup process, which starts via the screen in the second picture, above, and it downloads the plugin upon completion of the signup. So the absence of Skype on my machine is apparently irrelevant.

In this article, the author describes a method for disabling the Skype integration by editing the Hosts file to block the site hosting some Skype scripts. The instructions are for Windows, and I'm not familiar enough with it to translate it to the equivalent for Linux. It isn't clear whether this would actually stop the pop-up, though (which is what blocks access to the email). The pop-up deals with signup before Skype is even installed.

These kinds of odd behaviors often disappear when ad blockers and/or tracker blockers are disabled for the site. That didn't help in this case.

So far, the problem has occurred across multiple browsers in Linux, but not with any browsers in Windows, and some of the browsers are the same on both platforms.

  • Adding a screenshot of the pop-up (mask personal stuff) might help. You can log in to Skype using your Outlook.com email/password, so I can't understand why it is asking to set up a new account, or for that matter how it would even know if it is installed. Unless something changed recently, anyway. – user3169 Jun 20 '15 at 5:31
  • So when you click on the green "I have a Skype account" button, it asks for some id and password, right? And the Outlook ones won't work? What do you see at that point? – user3169 Jun 20 '15 at 6:30
  • And you can't sign in from there? Also you are using IE, right? – user3169 Jun 20 '15 at 6:40
  • @user3169: I'm on Linux, so there is no IE, but I don't use it even when I venture back to Windows. Outlook.com has worked until now with Firefox. re: Skype login -- there's a sign-in screen that accepts Outlook.com credentials. That takes me to the 2nd image in the question. Clicking on the green "I have a Skype account" button takes me back to the other screen. Vicious circle. – fixer1234 Jun 20 '15 at 6:47
  • I have google chrome on windows. It does it to me too. – user97029 Jun 30 '15 at 13:08
4

I can answer the question I asked and describe how I put the symptoms into remission (so far), but can't explain the underlying problem. I'll post this to help others with the same problem, but won't accept my own answer in the hope that someone else has an answer for what is actually causing problem.

Is there a way to completely remove Skype association from Outlook.com so I can simply access my email, or is there now no email access if I don't create a Skype account?

Answer: The Skype enrollment popup appears to be a symptom, not the actual problem. This has not appeared at all in Windows. Microsoft does not have a new policy that a Skype account is required to access web mail. Skype does not need to be removed because the issue is not actually Skype, it relates to buggy user-account behavior. I'll share what I've learned about the symptoms and stopping them.

Linux vs, Windows

The problem occurs across all browsers I tried in Linux, but not with any browsers in Windows, and many are the same browser, so it isn't browser specific. It also occurs with multiple Linux distros (Debian and Mint), so it isn't distro specific. One common denominator is Java. The Linux distros use a version based on IcedTea, which is different from what runs in Windows, and some web sites are extremely finicky about their Java.

Microsoft Web Sites

I hadn't previously made the connection, but Outlook.com is not the only site with an issue. Other Microsoft sites (and only Microsoft sites), have had some flaky behavior. Microsoft support and reference pages would ask me to sign into my Microsoft account when the page is open to the public. The common denominator is that the problem with Outlook.com and other Microsoft sites involves buggy user-account behavior.

Apparently, a product called Rhino, which is used on the web site side, may be required for IcedTea to work properly. If Microsoft wanted to make life difficult for non-Windows users, they could ignore Rhino in the design of their web sites. I have no idea whether this is the case, but it could explain things.

Randomness

One thing that has made this a bear to diagnose is the somewhat random nature of the problem.

  • Chromium worked in Linux the first time, then it stopped working on subsequent sessions.

  • Manually disabling add-ons didn't help. Then running in browser safe mode (which disables add-ons), worked the first time, then it stopped helping in subsequent sessions.

  • Deleting cookies in Firefox got Chromium working again.

Cookie Connection

There was a "memory" element to the problem (things working the first time but not subsequent times, the user account common denominator, etc.), which suggests cookies might play a role.

Solution: I went into Firefox and deleted all Microsoft-related cookies I could identify. The problem disappeared, not just on Firefox, but on all browsers. So that was the "fix" that made the symptoms go away. It is still working properly after a couple of days, and all of the other Microsoft sites are also working properly. The appearance is that this triggered some type of reset on the web side.

Actual cause and solution?

There are still aspects of this that make no sense. If the problem is cookie-based, why would cookies be similarly affected across all browsers in Linux but not Windows? Why would the one-time actions occur? Why would cookies in one browser affect behavior or cookies in another browser? If the problem is user-account based (web server side), why would it see the account differently in Windows vs. Linux, across all browsers?

Answers aren't supposed to contain questions, these are just rhetorical questions. I'm hoping somebody will post a better answer than mine.

-1

Removing Skype from Outlook.com:

  1. Open Outlook.com and hit the Rubik’s Cube symbol (9 squares) left of the Outlook.com header
  2. Select People—this opens your contacts list
  3. Hit the gear wheel symbol in the black bar top right, located between the Skype symbol and your profile name and photo
  4. Under the top section Filter all contacts, uncheck Skype and Messenger
  5. This will leave your contacts with Outlook only (still checked, of course)
  6. Refresh the People tab—all your Skype problems have gone away, having been disassociated.
  • 1
    This is good information, but doesn't relate to the situation in the question. Perhaps I over-simplified the title (it refers to Skype being related to Outlook.com in a way that requires jumping through hoops to access Outlook). The problem wasn't Skype, itself (I don't have Skype), it was a pop-up demanding that I create a Skype account and that locked Outlook.com until action was taken on it. So there is no Skype application to remove (your solution isn't applicable), and the enrollment pop-up prevents carrying out your step 1 because Outlook, itself, was inaccessible. – fixer1234 Sep 6 '15 at 16:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.