Online clues suggest a Skype surprise for Windows 8 and Surface

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?

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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

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81 comments
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  • Please stop calling it Modern UI

    If "modern" means being able to run a whole 2 programs on a 32 inch monitor.... you could at least inject some sarcasm.

    It would be really funny if under the hood "modern" apps were really running in a 16 bit DOS session with a reworked Windows 2 UI on top. But I guess what's old is new again eventually.

    I know the whole thing is about to hit store shelves, but the swooning over Windows 8 is ridiculous.
    ITTech001
    • Uhhh...

      apparently you slept through the entire Metro conversation.... ?
      Oknarf
    • move the stone, its 2012

      You have no idea what has changed, do you?
      ninjacut
    • What you just said had absolutely nothing to do with this article

      We're talking about Skype.
      And yes, we're talking about Modern Apps.
      Specifically, we're talking about the Surface RT which only runs Modern Apps, much like the iPad only runs App Store apps.
      But the key here is yes, on Surface RT, you can pin two apps side by side. Something the iPad cannot do.

      We're not talking about desktop systems here
      ackacka
      • Running apps side by side...

        Why do you think iOS hardly does multi-tasking? Take a step back and think about this for a moment. Thought about it? Multi-tasking sucks battery life like there is no tomorrow. If you run Skype with video side by side with another app running at full speed, that "8 hours" of battery life will reduce to 2 hours. What do you think people will say then? It will not be, "this is awesome", it will be, "this is a POS".

        Battery life and the ability to run a tablet for at least 8 hours with regular use is not optional. It is a necessity and what made the iPad what it is. Reduce that battery life to 2 to 3 hours and you got yourself a notebook.
        serpentmage
        • Uh no

          I'm not sure what app you're going to have running "full speed" alongside Skype that is going to chew battery life like that. Photoshop? No, doesn't run on Windows RT. Mail? Checks for new messages every few minutes, not exactly a big drain. Netflix? Yeah I guess if you try to watch a movie at the same time you have a video chat it might be power-draining. But NO ONE WILL DO THAT.

          Jeez, I need better trolls.
          Ed Bott
          • Actually, you need better articles.

            You just got to finally spend some 'hands on time' with the surface and you write about some PR photos and text you got?

            Guess your hands on experience was to embarrassing to write about.

            Surface = FAIL
            NOmoreMicrosoftATall
          • No one will do that

            It's known that people do stupid thing, for .. the bragging rights.

            By the way, what is so exciting about having Skype on Windows RT? That applications is available on any platform -- a normal situation when you need to distribute spyware wider.

            Indeed, you need better articles.
            danbi
          • Skype is the reason I bought my Windows RT

            My new Surface on its way is the replacement for my phone and Zune. I never talk to anyone when I am not within wireless range. Now I have a laptop small enough I will take it with me everywhere and no longer need a phone and Zune... my phone bill just went to $60 a year for a Skype phone number (so people that blow money on regular phones can call me) and I spend $2.99 a month for the Skype service.
            ggibson1
          • ?

            Hmmm...MS owns Skype...Hmmm...I think the version for Windows will be superior to those for IOS and Android. Hmmm...I wonder why! Just like IOS and Android will get dumbed down version of Office.

            I think the article was fine. I think we need better commentary. Go back to your IOS forum and hang out with the gang.
            Rob.sharp
          • Ed, you're awesome...

            "Jeez, I need better trolls"
            LOL!!! That is very, very funny.. :-)

            Thanks for the article Ed - seems to me that you're always putting together the pieces.

            Sincerely,

            Robert
            RobertMcCarter
        • Huh?

          "Multitasking sucks battery life like no tomorrow". FALSE. Source: a decade of experience in software development.
          offbeatbop
    • Ha! Sorry to burst your bubble.

      That was the saddest complaint Ive ever seen.

      Ha! Funny.

      "but the swooning over Windows 8 is ridiculous."

      Listen, there are lots and lots of rediculous things in the world. LOTS.

      But swooning over Windows 8 on a scale of 1 to 100 rates pretty down near the low end about number 74...depending on how you look at it, and only if standing in line in the rain with 2000 other people for 9 hours for the Best Buy to open so you can be one of the first to purchase the latest iGadget is rated as number 1 most rediculous thing in the world.
      Cayble
      • Let's agree: “REEDIKYOULUS”

        ;^>
        WaltFrench
      • You need to change your "Meds"

        How about the sad fools that wait hours for a second rate product (Lumia phones come to mind), or other half baked products (Vista anyone). Face it Microsoft has a long history of half done products.
        Troll Hunter J
    • QUestion

      Are you giving critic for ZDnet writers or Microsoft?

      As it is Microsoft own re-branding to change "Metro" > "Windows 8 User Interface" > "Windows 8 Style" > "Modern UI".

      And yes, Microsoft is out like a snowman at summer with their Modern UI and its branding.
      A 19-30" display with Modern UI and its "multitasking" is just a terrible joke.
      Fri13
  • Ed which one you are getting?

    or, are you waiting for Surface Pro to surface? I'm getting one 64GB surface for myself and 32GB for wife.
    Ram U
    • I have a lot of devices to try before I buy!

      ;)
      Ed Bott
      • Somewhat off-topic question regarding Surface RT tablets

        Do you know how long Microsoft will support updates for the Surface RT tablets? I searched for "Windows RT" at Microsoft's Support Lifecycle site and no results were available.

        The context is that Apple recently bricked the original iPad after approx. 2 - 2.5 years. Original iPad users will neither receive an upgrade to iOS 6 nor continued updates for iOS 5.

        Thus, if Microsoft supports Windows RT updates for 4-5 years, this along with Office RT being pre-loaded will make these tablets a very good buy for consumers and students.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • "bricked"?

          Oy what? I've got an original ipad, and it's still working.
          HunterGuy2