Microsoft's acquisition of Skype was deemed as a move to integrate the voice call and chat service onto its mobile platform, Windows Phone. While an earlier report mentioned the possible integration of Skype onto the Windows Phone infrastructure, Microsoft hasn't confirmed that point. What has been announced at Mobile World Congress is a Skype app (which is still in beta) being made available on the Windows Phone Marketplace.
According to Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President, Windows Phone, the company has been aware that consumers have been looking to get a Skype app on their smartphones. The new Skype app, like many of those that have been launched on the Windows Phone Marketplace, adopts the same design concept as the operating system's Metro user interface. To illustrate that point, here's a video demonstration of the Skype app on Windows Phone.
Along with the release of its Skype app, Microsoft also announced a new set of hardware requirements for its Windows Phone partners. In a bid to lower the price point of its future devices, Microsoft took a more relaxed approach to the hardware specifications, enabling partners to manufacture devices equipped with modest hardware such as 256MB RAM and a lower cost Qualcomm 7x27a processor.
One potential concern with lower-spec devices will be app support. According to Joe Belfiore, Vice President for Windows Phone Product Management, the company has identified approximately 5% of current applications that will not perform properly on these devices with lower memory. While Microsoft is making the first step to contact and advise these developers to rework their apps to use less memory, developers are also given an option to opt out of these devices.
In doing so, these apps will not be installable on these lower cost devices. However, developers are given an option to re-think their decision, and should they choose to optimize their apps for lower memory usage, they can simply change the value in the app's manifest file and resubmit the app onto the Windows Phone Marketplace.
With these new developments, we've also seen devices taking advantage of these lower requirements. We are now looking at more affordable Windows Phone devices, one of which is the Nokia Lumia 610 that has been announced with a price tag of 189 euros.
Further to that, Microsoft announced that new markets will be added for Windows Phone devices, starting with the new affordable range hitting China in the months to come. While Chinese language support is currently available on Windows Phone, new language support such as Malay and Indonesian will be a welcomed addition to the South-East Asia region.