Microsoft makes Skype available to OEMs for preinstallation on PCs

Microsoft makes Skype available to OEMs for preinstallation on PCs

Summary: Microsoft's latest OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) facilitates the preloading of Skype for Windows 7 on new PCs.

TOPICS: Microsoft

Microsoft is making availble to select OEMs and system builders a kit to allow them to "silently" preinstall Skype on new PCs.

The new Skype OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) -- about which I first learned from a post by blogger Steven Bink on May 29 -- is for Windows 7. It includes the Skype 5.8 for Windows code. (The latest currently available downloadable version for Windows is Skype 5.9.)  Skype has supported Windows 8 test builds since the fall of 2011 with version 5.5, but the new OPK is focused on Windows 7, presumably because that's the version of Windows PC makers are shipping now.

The new Skype OPK includes the installer application and "instructions on how to silently install Skype for your customers," according to the download page.

It was just about a year ago that Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion. Regulatory approval of the deal closed in the fall of 2011. Microsoft is working on integrating Skype across its various business and consumer products, into everything from Office to Xbox. So far, however, Redmond has yet to make available the bulk of the promised deliverables.

Earlier this year, Microsoft rolled out its first version of Skype for Windows Phone, an offering which has been criticized as being less functional than Skype for iOS and Android. Microsoft is expected to introduce an improved version of Skype for Windows Phone 8 later this year.

The head of Microsoft's Skype division, President Tony Bates, is set to address attendees of the AllThingsD D10 conference this week.

As the Microsoft OPK download page notes, traditional OPKs from Microsoft for both Windows and Office are aimed at all kinds of OEMs who build PCs. They require registration before download.

"System builders who distribute Windows software on a fully assembled PC can preinstall the software on the PC's hard drive using the OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK). The OPK is a set of tools and documentation that helps automate this process," Microsoft explains on its OPK page for OEMs.

Deployment guides for the Skype OPK are available in English, German, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Ukrainian. The page notes that Skype may not be preinstalled on PCs shipping to the People's Republic of China.

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Nice.

    .... Also, welcome back Mary Jo.
    P. Douglas
    • Thanks!

      I'm rested and ready for the coming MS news onslaught! :) MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • Great more bloatware because that's what a Windows PC really needs!

    Great more bloatware because that's what a Windows PC really needs!

    I use Skype but it shouldn't come preinstalled.
    • It will probably be built in to Windows 8

      There have been many rumors and speculations about MS building Skype into Windows 8. While this may be a difficult task, given antitrust and telecom challenges, it could be a very interesting move and one that could actually give some value to consumers. It's not much different that Apple bundling iChat with OSX.

      What I do feel like they should do, however, is first of all to open up API's so that 3rd parties could build upon the built in IP telephony platform and secondly support more protocols such as SIP, jabber, etc. Make Skype itself into a platform OR keep Skype as something separate and build in a more generic "messenger" platform that can also talk to Skype and allow others to expand it as well.

      I could easily imagine bringing up a charm in Windows 8 while in the people hub and from there make a phone call to somebody using Skype or whatever else could be integrated.

      Also by building it into Windows, it would use fewer ressources, as it wouldn't be an app running all the time, but instead only be triggered by certain hooks in the OS (when calls come in, etc.). Right now we have the chat app, it would make sense to be able to add voice and video to the conversation and seemlessly switch between different networks and protocols including facebook and even SMS - much as in Windows Phone today.
    • Giving it away pre-installed...

      ...means it's not doing so well on it's own.

      MS has to find a way to justifying boosting the Skype numbers so what better way than to give it to you whether you asked for it or not.
      • MS can only win when bundling.

        Skype was good...maybe even great. Now it's just a vector MS will use to push it's OS which no one is interested in.
        The Danger is Microsoft
      • Huh????

        I thought that Skype was always free???? This way is more convenient; you won't have to waste time downloading it. For crying out loud!
    • I agree. I'd rather have a clean PC from the start

      and decide what programs I want on it, though I do use Skype myself.

      This is just another way to get people to se that Skype exists, outside of the typical techy people that already know about it.
      William Farrel
  • Skype

    Is an odd acquisition yet. Here, I was hoping Microsoft would clean up the app an integrate it into their services, but we have yet to see that. I'm also highly disappointed in the limitations of the WP7 app.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Microsoft still doesn't get it

    It is the directory service, stupid.

    A few days after a person installs Skype, he forgets about it. Why? Because he doesn't know the Skype ids of all his friends. And all his friends do not know the Skype id he has just created. The network effect is broken.

    Look at WhatsApp and Viber. They have an ingenious way of overcoming directory service and upon signing up you instantly know exactly the WhatsApp/Viber id of [b]all[/b] your friends!
    • Microsoft let you decide

      Who you want as your contact. If one is too dense to accomplished this, the nothing Microsoft can do about that. I tell all my friends and family, that I want to contact me, my contact information, and we have no problem communicating!
  • Skype

    I have never used Skype, I have no need for it. But good deal others can find use in it.
    • Skype is useless...

      ...if you don't have any friends.
      • No, No, and No!

        Skype is my only long distance service and is used when long distance status is in doubt. It is worth it!!!!
  • OK

    Didn't think there was any issue with Skype's ubiquity or installation ease and there's no competitor to cut off at the pass.

    Revenue play? As in license the redistribution, use the OPK, and gain a bullet point on the retail feature card?

    That's fine.

    I'm retiring early now; I've learned and used my new acronym for the day.
  • Gee more crap to uninstall

    You know I would rather just download what I need rather then booting up a new PC and have multiple programs trying to finish installing and asking me to sign up and go through the motions. Its one reason years ago I was so impressed with buying a Mac. I am not really any more liking OS X then Windows 7 these days. But at least with a Mac. When you first start it you can get up and running a whole lot faster and you do not have to spend time uninstalling all the stuff that you don't want. It would be even better if I could at least choose to install it or not. Fine, have a link to a download site or something. But don't have crap running in the background that I may never use.
  • Mary Jo

    This is not part of the "PC Essentials" package that OEM's are required to install to get Office Starter 2010 licensing for $2/PC instead of $5 without PC Essentials. That package still only consists of Bing Bar, Bing browser defaults, WL Essentials, and MSE.

    So no, there is no "revenue play" with this one - yet. Here's what I expect to happen: OEM's will be able to include the new Mail, Messaging, Calendar, etc. Metro apps that make up the bulk of the features that used to be in Windows Live Essentials, but because they are missing a lot of funtionality, premium apps like Skype will carry higher spiffs, even if there is a lot of overlap in functionality (similar to Zune vs. WMP). OEM's will make more in spiffs by including Bing, Xbox, and Skype properties though. When Skype becomes a Metro app (it's bound to happen), some features will be dropped (also bound to happen), but it will still supercede the functionality of the former Win8 Messaging app, which will then be deprecated and discontinued. By that time, Skype will have integrated former WL ID (now Microsoft Account) logins.
    • Metro Apps...

      But this is all about Windows 7
      • You don't get it

        They're not going to change the rules for the PC Essentials program with less six months away from a new OS release.

        Likely Skype 6.0 will be the first version that is optimized for Windows 8, and also the first one that will carry Microsoft's brand. Microsoft won't do a lot of changes with the software until they slap their name on it first.