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With around 280 million active users every month, Skype is very high on a lot of people’s communications priorities. Here on Conversations, we use it all-day, every day for everything from team chats and one-to-one messaging, to intercontinental videoconferences.

We talked to Skype’s Derek Snyder (@dereksnyder) about the latest version, and what it means for the company.


[do action=”boxout”]Download Skype

  1. Press the Search button on your Nokia Lumia and then tap Vision
  2. Scan the QR code
  3. Tap on the link when it appears on the screen
  4. Install the application from the Windows Phone Store


What’s the importance of Skype?

Skype’s mission is to bring people together. We enable people to be there when they’re not, and share moments and connections.

Being available on every screen that people use is important for us, so of course this new version for Windows Phone 8 is enormously important for us.

We understand that some technology changes in the newest version of Windows Phone were important to the evolution of Skype?

We really wanted a version of Skype for Windows Phone, and to be able to take advantage of the cool, modern design: the ability to use panoramas to switch between all the core functions and pivot from one screen to the next. So we were delighted to be able to produce a version for earlier Windows Phone models.

But we also wanted to build Skype into an always-on experience. And that’s something we have been able to do through the advanced capabilities of Windows Phone 8. On this platform, Skype is always reachable, without any impact on either performance or battery life.

Baked in

Skype is also a part of the Windows Phone 8 operating system as a whole. This has been the first product where we’ve had a full planning cycle as part of Microsoft. That’s given us a lot of privileges and foreknowledge that we don’t necessarily get with other operating systems.

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Although Skype is an over-the-top app, it becomes integrated into the phone once installed:

  • We use the same calling screen that’s used for regular GSM voice calls, and you can even switch between Skype and GSM calls the same way you can between regular calls;
  • Notifications of missed Skype calls and messages can be seen on the lock screen;
  • Skype contacts are integrated and linked in your People Hub, the same way people from accounts like Facebook are;
  • And you can initiate a Skype chat right from there with one button press.
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And, of course, we make use of Live Tiles. Like with the other tiles, you get different functions according to which size you use. At small and medium sizes, you see a count of missed messages, whereas the large size shows you the actual last message you received.

You’ve called this a ‘preview’, what does that signify?

There’s two parts to that. On the one hand, we’re still testing and refining some features, so we wanted to alert users that this isn’t yet a fully finished, rigorously tested release.

Second, while the Windows Phone version is actually more advanced in many ways than our Android and iOS releases right now, there are still some capabilities that we know our customers love from those platforms that we’ll want to build into Windows Phone going forward. So we’ll expend some of our effort going after that.

There are lots of great things ahead and our release cycle is pretty quick, so look out for lots more to come.

Thanks, Derek, for your time!