Skype may have started out as an early voice over IP success story, but in recent years Microsoft has been steadily turning the software into a platform that incorporates video, chat, language translation and bots, in a bid to help users stay in touch with friends and colleagues using the communication methods they prefer.
Furthering this vision, Microsoft has updated the Skype desktop app for Windows 10 by adding new features that help users quickly access their shared content and inform them when someone chimes in on a conversation.
The software's chat interface now includes a Gallery option that displays a gallery pane containing shared images, videos, files and links when clicked, allowing users to find a specific piece of content without digging through their chat history. Skype also now alerts users when others are carrying on discussions that involve them.
"If you've started feeling a little left out of the loop with your book club or a family round robin, the Notification panel in Skype helps you catch up on reactions to your messages, @mentions in group conversations, or find out if someone has quoted you recently," said Microsoft representatives in a Dec. 11 announcement. "Click the message in the Notification panel to jump right back into the conversation."
The software's search function now digs a little deeper to help users find information tucked into long-forgotten conversations. Users can search across all individual and group chats, said Microsoft. Finally, Skype status updates return to once again allow users to broadcast their availability and set mood messages.
The new Skype client is currently being rolled out to users that have configured Windows Update to deliver updates automatically. Alternately, users can check for updates manually, triggering a download.
Meanwhile, the Skype brand is branching out in some ways and retreating in others.
In November, Microsoft unveiled Skype Professional Accounts for small businesses, allowing entrepreneurs who use the software as an integral part of their business to better manage and monetize their Skype-based customer interactions.
Skype has become a go-to technology for many small business owners who dole out financial advice, offer online training and provide many other online services that require real-time online communication.
Rather than rely on email clients, scheduling software and other tools to manage these interactions, Skype Professional Accounts provides a one-stop destination for booking and conduction sessions as well as accepting payments. It is available now as part of a limited preview program.
However in the enterprise communications and collaborations space, the Skype name may soon fade away.
Microsoft announced during September's Ignite conference that Teams is replacing the Skype for Businesses client application. Launched in March 2017, Teams is chat-based group collaboration product similar to Slack that is tightly integrated with Microsoft's Office 365 productivity software platform. It will soon inherit many of Skype voice, video and online meeting capabilities, the software giant said.