Microsoft releases Skype for Desktop 8 Preview


We still use Skype. It’s still a decent tool to be able to converse with a wide range of colleagues spread across the world and, frankly, most people we need to communicate with are on Skype (or have access to a Skype account, at least).

Recent changes to the mobile version caused more than a few eyebrows to be raised. Luckily we don’t use the mobile edition, so when Microsoft announced changes to the desktop edition, this had us worried. Windows 10 users will receive the update automatically, as it’s built into your operating system, but Windows 8/7 and Mac OS X users can download a v8 preview right now.

So, what’s new? The first and most obvious change is the UI is a little more clunky, especially on OS X, and not within the standard Apple UI guidelines. It appears as more of a consumer chat client than something you’d choose to use in a business environment. The preview will show users when they are online, but you can’t see their other status (away etc), which is frustrating.

One UI improvement is the new dark and light mode. Frankly, in light mode the UI is far too 'bright', but there doesn’t appear to be a way of switching between modes once you’ve selected one color scheme after startup.

What you do get is @mention support, so if someone has a conversation about you, and you are referenced, you can see your mention and choose whether to join the conversation. A new chat media library enables you to refer to all the information supplied within a chat, including links, documents and other files. The improved group chat now enables you to react to something someone is saying with an immediate emoji. You can send an emoji reaction to things people have typed, too, so if someone says something nice, you can react with a heart -- a feature we’ve been requesting for years.

If you’re a Windows 8/7 or OS X user, you can download the v8 preview right now and, best of all, it will sit alongside your existing Skype installation, meaning you can remove the preview in, literally, minutes.

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