Microsoft delivers preview of Skype for Windows Phone 8

Microsoft delivers preview of Skype for Windows Phone 8

Summary: Microsoft's Skype client for Windows Phone 8 is available in preview form. Along with some readers, I've got qualms over the way contact integration is handled.

SHARE:

Microsoft's Skype division announced Skype for Windows Phone 8 on October 29. But it wasn't until late last night, November 11, that the Skype team made tht product  -- in preview form -- available for download.

(Thanks to WPCentral for a heads up on the availability timing.  Around 9 pm ET on November 11, the preview was just beginning to trickle out. The Skype team announced availability on November 12. The Windows 8 Skype app preview can be downloaded from the Windows Phone Store. )

skypewp8

Skype for Windows Phone 8 is not integrated into the Windows Phone OS, in spite of some reports claiming the contrary. It is a downloadable app, but is more tightly integrated than many other Windows Phone 8 apps -- meaning it has direct access to the People Hub, can display via the lock screen, and can take advantage the incoming call screen -- capabilities which other VOIP apps on Windows Phone 8 do not have.

Skype for Windows Phone 8 allows users to receive chat messages and notifications for voice and video calls even i fthey are in another app or have their phones on lock. Skype officials said this "always on" multitasking will result on only "limited" battery drain. Skype calls will use the same incoming call screen that regular phone calls use in Windows Phone, and will allow call waiting so that users can switch between Skype calls and mobile calls.

Chats are the default first view. As is the case with Skype for Windows 8, the Skype unit's goal is to convince users that Skype chat should be the first place they go when they log into any mobile device. In chat, users will find conversation history, as well as current chats.

"The idea is to promote everyday usage," said Derek Snyder, head of mobile marketing at Skype. Microsoft wants users to become accustomed to logging into Skype and leaving it permanently on.

skypelockscreen

Skype notifications are available on the lock screen, as an option, as of this release. (See embedded image at left.)

Microsoft officials announced last week that they are planning to eliminate Windows Live Messenger as of the first quarter of 2013. As part of this plan, Microsoft is automatically integrating Messenger buddies into Skype (once a user signs in on Windows Phone 8 for the first time using his/her Microsoft account). Skype officials are playing this up as a positive, claiming this integration will make it "possible for you to connect with more people than ever."

Along with a number of my readers, I am concerned that there are not currently enough privacy controls to allow users to make themselves unavailable (wihout having to be universally invisible) now that Skype is integrated with my contact list. Another drawback: There is no way to sign out of Skype on Windows Phone 8 (unless I just cannot find this).

Microsoft/Skype have not made it as very clear that once users opt into integrating their Messenger/Skype contact lists, this merger cannot (easily) be undone.

"You can undo the Messenger/Skype merge via support, if needed," a spokesperson told me late last week. "We expect that the ability for the user to undo will be coming soon."

I've sent my feedback to Skype about my uneasiness around the lack of granular privacy controls. Others may do the same by chiming in over at Skype customer support. Hopefully, there's still time for some changes before the WP8 Skype client goes final -- the planned timing of which Microsoft/Skype is not providing at this time.

Topics: Unified Comms, Microsoft, Smartphones, Telcos, Windows

About

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).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

18 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I was expecting better Skype

    I was hoping for better integration with Skype, but I remain very keen on WP8 platform.

    WP8 is really exciting, unlike Windows 8 RT, which seems to be floundering with OEM interest. Just as Microsoft get into Tablets, everyone else has moved onto 7 inch Tablets, and wrong footed Microsoft badly . They really should have beefed up WP8, such that it can support 7 Inch tablets. I was keen on the Surface RT, until I realised its too bulky, and uncomfortable to use as a casual Tablet, and is really an ultrabook replacement.
    JulesVerny
    • Really

      Your whole comment is uninformed, and really makes no sense at all.
      IamTiger
    • I have no idea...

      ...what anything you're saying has to do with Skype integration.

      As for the remarks you do make about Surface, I can't help but think you've never actually touched one, let alone held it. Bulky is the LAST word I'd use (or have heard used) to describe it.
      GoodThings2Life
      • I have

        It is bulky
        happyharry_z
  • WP7 chat

    My only concern is what happens to Windows Phone 7 integrated chat. Will it be promoted to Skype chat?
    Luke2375
    • You need to stop using WP 7

      And immediately run out and get a New Lumia 920, both Microsoft, and Nokia desperately need the money to continue providing the best Phone/OS ever seen by mankind /sarcasm
      Troll Hunter J
      • this is WP7

        unlike other platforms people using WP7 don't really feel like ditching it for the next thing.
        masukuma
      • Troll suicide

        So, if you are the Troll Hunter, and you are trolling, do you kill yourself?
        Chad Voller
        • Nope

          Sarcasm isn't same thing as trolling.

          Most people calling other trolls are just stupid who can not detect the difference, even when it is written for them.
          Fri13
          • Go Troll yourself

            It would seem the word can be used like the word Smurf...
            happyharry_z
      • But of course

        You're almost as big a troll as that SeanConnery007 idiot

        He does has you beat by a bit, though. Talk about a moron, I don't even respond to him he is so beneath me. Probably sits around eating Cheeto's in his basement apartment at his mommy's house!

        You, you're different. This ought to be fun!
        William Farrel
    • No Live on WP8

      Yeah, this was very a disheartening discovery for me. First, I noticed that there is no ability to "switch" the messenger client from SMS to Windows Live. I also noticed that my Windows Live contacts are now labeled as Hotmail contacts. Finally, after implementing my Skype/Live merge, I found, as Mary Jo has pointed out, that the entire contact list is available in the Skype App and that my People Hub now has an option for "Skype". It is an apparent deviation from the intuitively integrated OS and I'm starting to worry that the vision of simplicity for Windows Phone has already begun to waiver.
      vinneyk
  • Skype has always had a horrible UI

    I'm not surprised by this lack of controls as the Skype UI (at least on MAC) has been terrible for years.
    anerpvar
    • Took the words out of my mouth...

      I've always despised Skype's UI and privacy. Come to think of it... I just plain hate Skype.
      GoodThings2Life
  • VoIP app permissions

    "It is a downloadable app, but is more tightly integrated than many other Windows Phone 8 apps -- meaning it has direct access to the People Hub, can display via the lock screen, and can take advantage the incoming call screen -- capabilities which other VOIP apps on Windows Phone 8 do not have."

    Is it really so? According to MSDN documentation "VoIP apps for Windows Phone 8" [1], I think these are available to any VoIP app. MSDN states "When the user installs your VoIP app, the app shows up in the user’s App list like any other app. However, when an incoming call arrives for a VoIP app, the built-in phone experience is shown, and the VoIP app appears integrated into the phone".

    [1] http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsphone/develop/jj206983(v=vs.105).aspx
    antsa
  • Very annoyed...

    I may be uninstalling Skype due to the whole "can't sign out" nonsense. Completely ridiculous!

    At least list it in Settings > Accounts or something!
    GoodThings2Life
  • WE WERE LIED TO!

    Weren't we assured that Windows Phone 7 apps would continue to run just fine under Windows Phone 8? And yet it turns out this was a complete lie. Microsoft's own Skype for WP7 would not work under WP8, and now buyers of WP8 devices have to do without important apps until they can be updated for the new OS. This, along with the SDK shenanigans, just adds to the overall impression that WP8 was rushed out before it was ready.
    ldo17
    • Please provide a link...

      Please provide a link where MS categorically and unequivocally said/announced that all, as in 100%, WP7 apps would run without a problem in W8/WP8. Just curious. Thanks.
      petin_y@...