Over the last several months, anyone on Windows 10 has had the opportunity to test the integration of Skype Messaging and Chat via apps released by Microsoft for those individual purposes.
The goal of those apps were to make those functions integral to Windows 10 with integration in Messaging on both the PC and Mobile versions of Windows 10.
Well, after all of this testing and feedback from users, Microsoft has decided that while the concept works well in theory users wanted a more focused experience but with all of that functionality in a single app instead of spread around their operating system.
This means Microsoft has decided to move forward with their plans for a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) version of Skype that will work on PCs and Mobile devices running Windows 10.
This is not a new concept though as they planned last year to do the same thing but the introduction of the Messaging and Video Skype apps for Windows 10 stepped into the breach for a few months.
In the coming weeks Microsoft will release a Skype UWP Preview app to Windows Insiders for initial testing on Windows 10 on PCs and eventually Windows 10 Mobile.
So what can you expect in the new universal app when it arrives? Here are a list of features for the initial preview:
- Sign in with your Microsoft Account and link a Skype ID
- Show and change your availability
- See a list of your existing Skype contacts
- Initiate a chat with anyone in your contact list
- See that the other person is typing
- Make one-to-one voice and video calls and send messages
- Personalize your experience with emoticons and Mojis
- Send photos
- See notifications for incoming calls and messages outside of the app
- Participate in existing group chats
No surprise there because most of those features are already in the desktop Skype app. You can expect a more streamlined interface though with less duplication of menus and options to clean things up.
Once the initial preview lands the Skype team expects to continue to develop the app with additional features, some of which we also have in Skype on the desktop:
- Start a chat with anyone using Skype or not using Skype
- Create a group and send group messages
- Group voice and video calling
- Share your screen, files and video messages
- Manage notifications from individual chats
Ultimately though Microsoft plans to merge the functionality of Skype on your desktop with the Skype universal app so that you will no longer need that desktop version of Skype.
I guess the closest correlation we have of this merging process already is moving Control Panel functions into the Windows 10 Settings app.
That is taking some time to get accomplished so I expect this process will take several months as well for Skype.
It looks like this initial preview will be very limited so keeping your desktop Skype program installed will be critical to retain functionality during the transition.
Maybe we will see this released with the next Windows Insider Preview build of Windows 10.
Check out the Skype Universal Windows Platform App FAQ for more info.