Microsoft releases preview of updated Skype Desktop app

Microsoft's newest Skype Desktop app, now in preview, works on older versions of Windows and Macs, but not the latest Windows 10 releases.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is starting to roll out a preview of a redesigned version of its Skype application for Windows and Mac desktop users.

(Image: Microsoft)

The Skype Desktop preview released today is not the same as the Universal Windows Platform version for Skype for Windows 10. Instead, this is the updated Skype Desktop app that runs on Windows 7, Windows 8.X. (Those who want to run this Desktop preview on Windows 10 can do so by choosing compatibility mode and selecting an older version of Windows, but that's the only way it's supported on Windows 10.)

Microsoft is bringing some of the features of its new Skype Mobile app to the Desktop with this preview. (Yes, that Skype Mobile app, which has been panned by many testers.)

The new Desktop preview "puts chat front and center"; adds more real-time screen and photo sharing; introduces @mentions, message reactions and a new notification panel; makes available a new chat media gallery for finding shared content like links, documents, and media; and adds more customization for group calls.

(Microsoft has added some of these features already to the Skype UWP app for Windows 10.)

The Skype Desktop preview app does not yet support translator calls, and allow users to send video messages or put calls on hold/merge incoming calls with existing calls. The Frequently Asked Questions page indicates these features will be coming.

In its blog post on Aug.17 announcing the new Skype Desktop preview, Microsoft officials emphasize that the company will be attuned to tester feedback about this new app, which is good given how poorly the Skype mobile app was received at rollout.

Microsoft officials said earlier this year the company planned to bring the updated Skype consumer client to iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, the web, and Xbox over time. Skype representatives have declined to say when Microsoft will no longer allow Windows 10 users to run the Desktop version of Skype on their devices, but that is believed to be the plan.

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