Online clues suggest a Skype surprise for Windows 8 and Surface

Summary:In all of this week's news about Microsoft's Surface with Windows RT, one app has gone practically unmentioned. Will a "modern UI" version of Skype play a starring role at next week's Windows 8 launch event?

Update October 22: A post on the Skype blog confirms that the new Skype for Windows 8 will be available in the Windows Store on launch day, October 26.

This week Microsoft finally let reporters ( including me ) spend some hands-on time with its previously top-secret Surface with Windows RT device. The company also started taking pre-orders for the product on a revamped website.

But it wasn’t until I sat down and took a closer look at those pages dedicated to Surface with Windows RT that I noticed an interesting detail. Here, see for yourself:

skype-for-windows-rt

That sure looks like the long-rumored “modern UI” Skype app, doesn’t it? The two characters in that screenshot, "Elena" and "Anna," are both prominently featured on the Skype website.

The text alongside that screen doesn’t say a word about Skype or telephony or microphones or cameras. But there is this teasing reference on a different page, also devoted to Surface with Windows RT:

skype-for-rt-clue-2

And the title of that page? “Software for Surface: Windows RT, Skype, Office RT, Xbox and more.” Finally, at least one reference to Skype that was in the previous version of the Surface website was scrubbed during the transition of the website from preview site to pre-order. This previous version of the page was helpfully cached by Bing:

skype-for-rt-clue-3

On the preorder page for Surface with Windows RT, there's this mention of Skype as well:

skype-for-rt-clue-4

The Start screen tile for the Windows 8/RT Skype app has already been spotted in the wild, and at least one leaked copy got unauthorized hands-on coverage back in August.

The latest Skype Beta for Windows allows you to link a Microsoft account with a Skype account. When that's done (a simple operation), Skype appears on the Call menu alongside any linked contact in the People app. But so far there's no native app available as a target for that option.

Come next Thursday, when customers start taking delivery of the first batch of Windows RT-based Surface machines, I’ll be shocked if Skype isn’t front and center. It might even make it into TV ads, with Surface users sitting down instead of dancing .

On any list of must-have apps, Skype has to be in the top 3. So when you see it take a starring role in the launch event on October 25, try to look surprised.

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Microsoft, Windows

About

Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications. He has served as editor of the U.S. edition of PC Computing and managing editor of PC World; both publications had monthly paid circulation in excess of 1 million during his tenure. He is the a... Full Bio

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