Update (Nov 21, 2012): A new version of Skype is now available for download from the Windows Store with new features such as the abilities to search people and groups, and call Messenger contacts. As noted by Windows Phone Central, the latter requires the installation of a separate plugin. With Skype set to replace Messenger in 2013, what we're seeing here is without doubt the beginning of a series of moves to integrate the two services. By the way, the Skype team isn't just busy with Windows 8; a new update to its Android app has also just hit the Google Play store.
Skype, the voice call and chat service provider which was acquired by Microsoft late last year for US$8.5 million, has announced a new, ‘built from the ground up’ version of Skype for Windows 8 that is due October 26 on the Windows Store. For those unaware, October 26 is the day Microsoft’s new OS is generally available; it’s also the day when you can buy Windows 8 and Windows RT devices.
The new Skype is a Modern-style app, which means it opens up as a full-screen app. Of course, the tiled look and feel are also a given. From the Skype blog, we know that recent chat messages and calls as well as your favorite contacts are shown the moment you launch the app. There’s even a new Modern UI-influenced dial pad.
Skype is also able to run in the background, so that you’ll still be able to receive voice and video calls and chats even if you’re in another app or at the desktop. A rectangle popup notification at the top right corner will inform you of any new calls and messages. The Skype live tile on the new Windows 8 Start screen will tell you if you’ve any missed calls and offer a glimpse of any new messages. The app also supports snap multi-tasking, so you ‘dock’ the app on one side, while working on another app. Skype also integrates with the Microsoft account, so there’s no need for a different user name and password. Naturally, this also means that Skype is able to connect with the People app, and your Skype contacts will appear in the latter. From the People app, you can pin a contact to the Start screen, so calling the contact using Skype is literally a tap away.
Skype for Windows 8 will come pre-loaded on devices from 12 manufacturers. They are: Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, HP, Dell, Asus, Lenovo, Acer, Fujitsu, LG, and MSI. Interestingly, it won’t be pre-installed on the Surface RT tablets (at least not for the initial shipments).
For those wondering, yes, there will also be a Skype for the Windows 8 desktop client. It supports collaboration and productivity tools, such as file transfer and group video calling, that the Modern-style app doesn’t offer at the moment.
Here’s a video showing Skype for Windows 8 in action: