Skype for Windows 8.1, engineered since the acquisition

Skype for Windows 8.1, engineered since the acquisition

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This blog post is part of a series of guest posts we’re publishing this week from different people in groups across Microsoft who helped us build Windows 8.1. – Brandon

For an engineer, nothing is as rewarding as seeing the product you’ve been working hard on used by the people it was created for. I work with a team of talented engineers and we are responsible for delivering the best Skype and Lync experiences. We pull together all of the underlying technology (the video and calling stacks, signaling protocols, runtimes, etc.) and match them with the scenarios, user experiences and UI that (hopefully) make communications a great experience for you. We develop the client applications for multiple platforms including Windows, Mac, web, and Xbox – and we’re very proud of the work we’ve done with Windows to bring the Skype built-in experience to consumers!

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Yesterday marked the two year acquisition anniversary of Skype by Microsoft. And our work integrating Skype with Windows began then. The journey of Skype for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 has been about addressing user needs through innovation in design, features and infrastructure. We’ve been releasing updates to Skype for Windows 8 pretty regularly over the past year and consider it a point of pride that we’re not doing “big bang” releases. We were able to scale Skype’s brand and technology innovation while enhancing Microsoft’s portfolio of real-time communications products. Most importantly, we were thrilled by the opportunities to extend the value of Skype to other Microsoft products and services – Windows 8.1 is a direct result of these efforts.

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When Skype for Windows 8 launched, we took a fresh approach to our UI and debuted the new Modern look of Skype. Working closely with the Windows team, our focus was to collectively design a great experience for the new, reimagined platform. Now, with Windows 8.1, we’re continuing to invest in optimizing and simplifying the experience so you can do more at once, which has always been a cornerstone of Windows. For example, new to Windows 8.1, users can answer an incoming Skype call from their lock screen, launch apps side-by-side with Skype and scale to the size of your device. We worked closely with Windows engineering to make sure Skype was seamlessly integrated with Windows 8.1 – so it’s not just the communications app that comes with your operating system, but a useful tool to stay in touch with your friends, family and colleagues.

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Being part of Microsoft has opened up doors and increased collaboration and innovation across products. With Windows, we had a unique seat at the table to help inform the product from the ground up. One such example is the ability for users to answer Skype calls from their lock screen. This was a shift from Windows 8, where applications couldn’t really do anything when the device was locked. However, the Windows team introduced a new toast model for VoIP applications that allows users to answer the call using video, answer with voice only or ignore the call completely. We worked to make sure the transition from locked call to unlocked device was smooth and secure. We made sure that when users input their password while inside a Skype call, they’d move from this state of running over a locked screen to the complete operating environment. I think you’ll be pleased with how intuitive the experience feels and it will be fun to watch other apps take advantage of this functionality.

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The lock screen and other great features on Windows 8.1 like app-to-app launching and new screen size support steamed from our teams coming together to address user needs. With app-to-app launching, we made multitasking even easier. Now Skype users can not only share the screen with other apps but open another app (the browser, a picture, an Office document, etc.) and have it snap to the side of Skype. As Windows 8.1 reaches more and more products we realized the Skype client needed to automatically adjust the size and layout of the device. With the help of the Windows team we created an application that intuitively changes based on the aspect ratio and orientation of the devices’ screen.

We’ve been working hard on Skype for Windows 8.1. I am proud of what we produced so far and excited about the future development possibilities. It’s a pretty cool app, and I think I speak for the entire engineering team when I say, we can’t wait for you to get your hands on it.

Noah Edelstein
Director of Program Management
Skype

21 Comments
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  • I have not been able to open Skype since I upgraded from Windows 8 - Windows 8.1! Please fix this problem ASAP!

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  • were the same problem @bradleybeighton. i start skype the it appears the windows then its disappear it stays in the win tabs. what shall we do?

  • Please work on group video call support for Win8 app. People pay for premium service but the service is only available in desktop mode. This is a must have feature for all tablet devices in all platforms.

  • I've updated to Windows 8.1 but the app doesn't stay open when its clicked, it just returns me back to the start menu? Is this the same with everyone?

  • xpclient
    50 Posts

    Since Skype is far from the feature set or experience of Live Messenger, I think I'll pass. Google+ Hangouts offers me a better experience that I can trust won't be reimagined suddenly some day and all the features people used thrown away to focus on another program as Microsoft did.

  • Please make Skype Modern App to be able to talk to Facebook and Google Talk contacts just like the Outlook.com does.

    And make available an option to clear history on Windows Phone 8!

  • mullen
    0 Posts

    Could you fix the bug of no toast notification (especially incoming text and group chat) for Skype win 8 app? Several threads were posted on Skype forum, but without any helpful solution. I like any new features, but if the basic function is not reliable, I can't really use this app version, and still need to use desktop version. That also means there's no reliable Skype on WinRT at all.

  • Agree with pmbAustin and SKLee, fix the dual account issue.  Also, please fix the issues with child accounts: community.skype.com/.../1154552  Folks are buying tablets for their kids and the hope is that the kid can Skype Grandma and their cousins. This should be much easier for a mere mortal parent to setup for their kid while still keeping them protected.

  • @abm, exactly. I am also looking same set of features. Great feedback.

    - (phone)  app takes longer than expected (even if user enters task switcher from Skype and goes back to Skype!).

    - (phone) File sharing is missing - docs, images, videos...

    - (phone and windows 8.1) Screen sharing missing.

    - (phone and windows 8.1) Edit messages and edit message marker is missing

    - (phone) Mark all messages as read is missing.

    - (phone) Text selection is missing. Can't copy and paste text from chat!!!

  • Arttt
    2 Posts

    @Brandon LeBlanc : I know it is possible but you need to navigate to the People page. No offense but it seems pretty basic that a chat application would display available contact in the home page by default. Right know if you launch the Skype app, you have no idea who's online unless you go to the People page and look for this people.

    At MS you have incredible opportunity, great services, but you seems to have trouble getting it right.

    What do people want with a chat app:

    - seamless integration to the system (one contact list, one single way to manage it)

    - one place to see all their messages: SMS, chat apps and this should be sync between devices

    - a visual sign that your message have been sent, received and read

    - an easy way to switch from text message to VoIP to Video

    - an easy way to share docs, photos, screen (to help you old grand ma doing stuff on her PC)

    - an app that works with every device and every OS

  • abm
    268 Posts

    Thanks for the updates. Skyping experience is awesome on Windows and Windows Phone, except:

    - (phone)  app takes longer than expected (even if user enters task switcher from Skype and goes back to Skype!).

    - (phone) File sharing is missing - docs, images, videos...

    - (phone and windows 8.1) Screen sharing missing.

    - (phone and windows 8.1) Edit messages and edit message marker is missing

    - (phone) Mark all messages as read is missing.

    - (phone) Text selection is missing. Can't copy and paste text from chat!!!

    Please consider the above in future releases. :-))))

  • - You can do this in the Skype app in Windows 8.1 by going to "People" and then selecting in the top navigation "available". These are your online contacts.

  • SKLee
    0 Posts

    I completely agree with pmbAustin. There needs to be an overhaul of the functionality of Skype.

    Microsoft already owns Skype, so why is there still the Messaging app on Windows 8? Why can't Skype replace it? pmbAustin is right, get rid of the log in screen. Tie Skype accounts to Microsoft accounts permanently.

    Same thing on Windows Phone 8. It's a major hassle. We'd all rather use Whatsapp.

    All you Skype people need to sit down and have one and one aim only. Be the only IM, VoIP, and video conferencing service that anyone would ever need, on any platform. It will have to be preferred to iMessage, BBM, Whatsapp, Windows' silly Messaging app, Viber...

    And instead of having silly "premium" accounts, give Skype on Windows an advantage. When Skype reaches its full potential as being the #1 IM and VoIP service on all platforms, the Windows advantage will surely draw some users.

    Throw the old model away.

  • Today is the Microsoft's day. After GDR3 update and its installation. techknackblogs.com/.../get-windows-phone-8-update-3-early

    After that bing IE11 update techknackblogs.com/.../ie11s-new-pre-render-tag-in-bing

    and now the new update for Skype....what a awesome day for Microsoft users :)

  • The one thing that's bugged me about Skype on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 is the need to create yet another account.  Since I sign in to these things with a Microsoft Account, why can't it "just work" out of the box?  Obviously, I should have the option to use any account I want (for those with existing Skype accounts, for example), but for new users, the need to sign up "yet again" with "yet another account" and having to enter "yet another set of user credentials" seems a needlessly high barrier to over-come.

    When I fire up Skype on Win8 or on WP8, it should "just work".  Immediately.  No logging in.  No having to do anything extra.  It should be as easy and obvious to use as FaceTime is on iOS... it should be the "cross-platform" FaceTime.  

    I've fired up Skype a dozen times, and the moment I'm confronted with that "login/create and account" screen, I just sign and close it, because I just don't have time or want to deal with that, or even really know what it wants.  Eliminate that, and see your usage skyrocket.

  • jjbowles
    43 Posts

    1. Keep cleaning the UI with fewer ads.

    2. More integration with Office (Schedule a Skype call in outlook, share this document in Skype, presence indicators in Outlook, etc..)

    3. Deeper (and more reliable) Lync federation

    4. Time to update the Skype look.  It's too soft and OSX-like.

  • @lakleeman: You can already remove contacts in the current Skype for Windows 8. Take a look at the instructions here: support.skype.com/.../adding-contacts-windows-8

  • Have you fixed the problem where you cannot edit/delete contacts ?!?  (You can't do so in the Win8 app or at outlook.com .)

  • Arttt
    2 Posts

    In the current Skype Modern app, it is not possible to only see online contacts in the home screen. Will it be possible now? You could introduce filters so that people can chose to see - by default - all their contacts, or online contacts only, just like in the WP8 app.

    Are you also introducing a way to merge contacts? It is really needed!

    Thanks!