Microsoft sets a poor example with Skype's retreat to the desktop

Do as I say, not as I do

Skype

Update: Microsoft clarified that a universal experience of Skype will be available with Windows 10. Please read our news of this announcement.

As Microsoft gets ready to sunset the Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 version of Skype – available through the Windows Store – it is setting a poor example for Windows app developers ahead of the launch of Windows 10. The latest strategy for Skype seems to go against Microsoft's strategy for developers – to create a single app that spans across the Windows 10 ecosystem. As Microsoft is pushing developers to create universal apps, the company is doing the opposite.

"With the upcoming release of Windows 10 for PCs, it makes sense to use the Skype application optimized for mouse and keyboards use, capable of doing touch as well rather than two separate applications performing the same function," Microsoft said in a blog post.

On July 7, when users of the Modern UI edition of Skype attempt to launch the touch-optimized app, they'll be redirected to download the desktop version. If you're already using the desktop version of Skype to chat, make phone calls and video chat with friends and colleagues, no change will occur.

A change in direction

Instead of standardizing on a universal app, Microsoft's retirement of the Modern UI version of Skype means that the company is retreating back to the familiarity of the desktop, rather than pushing for a single cross-compatible app that works across Windows 10 Mobile smartphones, Xbox, tablets and PC.

Given Microsoft's change in direction, it appears that it will be distributing multiple versions of Skype for different platforms. The desktop Skype app will only run on Windows 10 tablets and PCs with x86 processors from AMD and Intel. Windows RT tablets, which lack the ability to run legacy Win32 apps, will still be able to run the Modern UI version of Skype. And finally, it seems that Skype may come with separate versions for Xbox and Windows 10 Mobile.

Given Windows 10's focus on the desktop with the reintroduction of a Start menu, and the ability for universal and Modern UI apps to open in resizable windows on the desktop, the change in direction seems to make sense on one hand.

"With the upcoming release of Windows 10 for PCs, it makes sense to use the Skype application optimized for mouse and keyboards use, capable of doing touch as well rather than two separate applications performing the same function," Microsoft said in its blog post.

At this point, it's unclear what effect Microsoft's Skype strategy will have on Windows 10 developers. Microsoft made a push for universal apps to encourage developers to develop for its platforms in an effort to compete against Android and iOS, each with approximately 1.5 million apps.

Earlier this year, Microsoft said that "Skype will come built into your communications suite on Windows 10 devices across your PC, tablet and phone." We've reached out to Microsoft to see if the company will release a universal Skype app after Windows 10 ships, but we did not immediately get a response.

Even with Microsoft's renewed focus on the desktop app, soon Skype users may not even need to download an app. A beta of Skype in the US and UK allows users to run Skype inside of a browser without requiring any software to be downloaded.

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