What's happening with Microsoft's Skype messaging everywhere feature

The Skype messaging everywhere (SMS Relay) feature is slowly but surely moving ahead, and not just for Windows or Skype Insiders only.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is slowly but surely bringing its promised "Messaging Everywhere" feature to users across devices.

Credit: Microsoft

In late June, just a month before finalizing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft decided to remove its "Messaging Everywhere" feature from that build of Windows 10. Instead, officials said, that capability would become part of the updated Universal Windows Platform version of Skype.

At that time, Microsoft continued to enable users with Windows Phones and Android phones who had Cortana installed on both their phones and Windows 10 PCs to continue to reply to text messages between their devices.

Last week, Microsoft made an updated preview build of the Skype UWP app available to Windows 10 users (not just Windows Insiders). That preview build included the "Messaging Everywhere" (officially christened SMS Relay) in the application. However, the updated Skype PC preview only supports SMS messaging between Windows Phones running Windows 10 Mobile and PCs running Windows 10 -- though Microsoft officials confirmed that Microsoft will bring SMS Relay to Android "in the future."

Microsoft also quietly disabled the ability to message between Windows 10 PCs and Windows Phones and Android phones without relying on Skype last week. Previously, if Cortana was installed on both devices, that type of communication worked without requiring the SMS Relay feature in Skype Preview.

"We have temporarily disabled the capability in Cortana on Windows Phone 10 and the Cortana Android companion app that enables you to receive text messages to your PC while we evaluate an experience issue which we are working to resolve. We will bring this capability back into the experience as soon as possible," a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed.

Last week's updated Skype Preview (version 11.9) for Windows 10 PCs and Phones also added the ability to connect to Skype for Business users, as well as some fixes and updates to calling and chatting in the preview app.

In other Skype news, Microsoft launched its Skype Insider program on November 8. (I had heard of individuals claiming to be Skype Insiders before today, but it seems today is the "official" launch of the testing program.) Update: FlorianB on Twitter reminded me that there was a Skype Insider program for iOS only before, but now the testing program is open to Skype on Windows desktop and Android, too.

Like the Office Insider and Windows Insider programs, Skype Insiders will be able to give early feedback on coming features. Microsoft also renamed its Xbox Preview Program to Xbox Insider Program yesterday, and made it no longer an invitation-only test program.

Also, though I'm a bit late to this one, Microsoft did make the RTM version of Skype for Business on Mac generally available late last month, in case anyone hadn't heard.

Update: One more Skype item worth noting. There's been an outbreak of Skype spam as of late. Don't forget to secure your Skype account by linking it to your Microsoft Account, as The Verge's Tom Warren notes.

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