Microsoft's Windows 10 has tight Skype integration -- are Google Hangouts and Apple iMessage in danger?


I have been having difficulty staying in touch with friends and family lately. The problem? Everybody is using different services! Apple fans are on iMessage and Facetime. Google users are on Hangouts. Other people embrace Facebook Messager or SMS. Quite frankly, it is maddening. Lately, I have been considering embracing Skype, as it works on Windows, Linux, OS X, iOS, Android and Windows Phone. In other words, I don't have to worry about the platform the other person is on. I can have my friends and family use Skype to get in contact with me.

Luckily, Windows 10 will have Skype installed by default, meaning every user of that operating system can easily access it. I will not have to instruct people how to download and install it -- this is huge. Not only is it installed, but tightly integrated into the OS. Plus, with Lync being transformed into Skype for Business, Microsoft's communication solution may be poised to dominate.

"As you may have heard, Skype will come built into your communications suite on Windows 10 devices across your PC, tablet and phone. As always, we look for ways to make doing more together intuitive, and on your Windows 10 device what better way to do that than to build Skype directly into messaging, calling and video experiences so you don’t have to download an app and barely need to setup", says Joyce Kim, Microsoft.

Kim further explains, "the most important thing to us is that you can reach your contacts to share everyday moments. Skype makes this easy by talking to your mobile and email address books, which means you can connect to friends using Skype not just on Windows devices, but also on iPhones, Macs, Androids and more".

True, Microsoft does get an unfair advantage by pre-installing Skype on all Windows 10 machines. With that said, there is nothing stopping users from installing alternatives. This is no different than bundling Internet Explorer -- a once decried practice -- that Apple and Google do with their browsers now too.

Besides including it, what really gives Microsoft a leg up is the strong brand which is Skype. It is a globally recognizable solution, that many people already embrace to video chat with distant friends and family. Microsoft is simply making it is easier for the less technically inclined to access.

Most importantly, Skype has the potential to dominate the highly sought-after chat and communication market, because of its biggest strength -- multi-platform support. iMessage is not available outside of the Apple ecosystem -- severely limiting its availability. This makes it a non-starter for many.

Hangouts has great apps for mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android, but no native apps on the desktop. In other words, Google's solution on Windows, Linux and OS X requires a web browser to be running constantly (some third-party options such as Pidgin will work too). This is less than ideal, especially as web browsers continue to consume lots of RAM.

While newer competitors such as Whatsapp are gaining ground, Microsoft's brand is more recognizable and arguably more trustworthy than the newcomers.

Do you think Skype can become the dominant force in communication? Tell me in the comments.

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