Microsoft updated the classic Skype desktop app yesterday, bringing a new design to the software that is very similar to Skype for mobile. After spending the last year testing the new design, Microsoft plans the force all classic desktop users to carry out the free upgrade to the new 8.0 version no later than September 1 by ending support for the previous version on that date.
According to Microsoft, the new version boasts faster load times and greater reliability. One of the biggest changes users will notice are the tweaks Microsoft has made to group chats to facilitate the sharing of photos or screens during calls. Group calls can now accommodate up to 24 people, and they’ve also brought free HD video to the platform.
There will also be @ mentions for personal notifications and group chats, notification panel features, and message reactions. Meanwhile, a gallery will help users find shared documents, links, photos and conversations more easily.
Later this summer, Microsoft will bring even more features to the app. Users will be able to create private conversations, which will be powered by the Signal Protocol for end-to-end encryption of audio calls and conversations. Read receipts will also be added to conversations.
Call recording finally comes to Skype
Microsoft is getting a lot of buzz for bringing call recording to Skype, a feature that many users have been asking for since the app was first launched 15 years ago. Right now, many people turn to third-party apps to record calls, but these approaches leave a lot to be desired.
Call recording will be built in to the new version and will be based in the cloud so that users can access their Skype call recordings using a range of devices, such as Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and Windows.
When a user starts recording, Microsoft says that everyone who is participating in the call will be notified that it’s being recorded for privacy and legal reasons. The recordings will contain a combination of everyone’s videos and any screens that might have been shared throughout the call. This feature is expected to roll out at the end of this month.
Microsoft says that many of their changes were inspired by feedback they’ve received from users over the years. They learned a lot of lessons from the largely negative reaction to Skype’s mobile design overhaul last year. Their goal is to make Skype familiar across desktop computers, tablets, and phones.
Skype boasts 300 million monthly users, but its growth has stalled in recent years. It used to be an essential app for communication, but competition from FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and business communication tools like Slack has seen its popularity wane. Microsoft hopes that the updated version will help it to remain competitive.