Windows 8 Secrets: Skype App for Windows 8

With tech enthusiast web sites from around the world continuing to leak Windows 8 information, your intrepid “Windows 8 Secrets” co-authors offer a bit of color commentary about what you’re seeing elsewhere and how things will really work. In this new co-post, we look briefly at the Metro style Skype app for Windows 8, which should ship in time for the OS’s general availability in late October. Pre-order Windows 8 Secrets today on Amazon.com and save!

It’s obviously not surprising that Microsoft would be working on a Skype app for Windows 8, given that the software giant purchased Skype last year for $8.5 billion. (Skype is also being integrated into other core Microsoft products, including Office 2013, Outlook.com, and the Xbox 360, among others.)

Neowin recently leaked news of the Skype app for Windows 8. And even in this incomplete, slightly broken first version, called an App Preview, you can see where Microsoft/Skype is headed.

The initial view, or landing page, is a full-screen experience that provides columns for recent calls, favorites, and people.

There’s also a link with your Skype name and profile message in the upper right. If you tap this, a pane expands to show your status (available, by default) and a link to account information. (Tap that and you’re off to the web.)

Tap the large Call button on the landing page, and you’ll find another full-screen experience where you can call or text an arbitrary phone number, access your current payment and balance info, and view your recent calls history.

If you have more contacts that will fit on the landing page, you can view the All People screen to see everyone. As with elsewhere in this app, available contacts will have a green presence indicator and those with customized profile pictures will display that instead of a generic icon.

When you view an individual contact’s screen, you’ll see their profile picture (if any), large green buttons for video and audio calls, availability, a reminder about that contact’s location and local time, and buttons and fields for entering a text message or contacting them via SMS on their mobile phone. (You can also add a contact to your favorites list by displaying the app bar here and choosing Favorite.)

While Skype for Windows 8 will eventually offer a snap interface so you can use this app side-by-side with other apps or the desktop, that view is currently non-functional.

In an actual video call, Skype works as expected. The video is of course full screen, and you can toggle the microphone, the web camera, and pane for exchanging text chat.

Skype does utilize standard, Windows 8-style notifications, and can run in the background. So you can be alerted when a call comes in no matter what you’re doing.

In fact, Skype is one of the few apps that can work with the detailed display status option on the lock screen. (You can also use Skype in one of your seven lock screen app slots.)

That said, Skype doesn’t (yet?) integrate with some other Windows 8 features such as the Share and Search contracts.

The most curious thing about the App Preview version of the Skype app is that it’s so incomplete. Despite references to an app bar, there is no such user interface element on any of its screens except for those that display individual contacts. And a Settings interface is conspicuously absent too. Presumably both of these issues will be fixed before release.

Have you seen any other Windows 8 leaks you’d like to know more about? Drop us a line and let us know!

– Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott