For a long time I was very high on Skype. As a Windows, Linux, and iOS user, its cross-platform nature made it a dream. Unfortunately, Microsoft started neglecting the Linux desktop client, causing it to become outdated from a design perspective and not entirely functional. I assumed the Windows 10-maker simply no longer cared about Linux on the desktop.
I assumed wrong. Shockingly, Microsoft announces a new Skype client for Linux -- currently in Alpha. In other words, Skype for Linux is back, figuratively speaking. The company is pledging its support for desktop operating systems based on the open source kernel. Will Linux users embrace it?
Microsoft has updated its Microsoft Bot and Skype Bot platforms with a host of new capabilities to ensure that its Bot Framework is ready ahead of its official launch at the end of 2016.
The company first announced its Skype Bot Platform in March during its Build developer conference. Currently there are 30,000 developers building bots for its platforms according to Microsoft.
Microsoft has launched Skype Meetings, a new and free version of its popular video and audio conferencing software designed with small businesses in mind.
The company’s latest release will feel quite similar for users already familiar with its Skype for Business solution, albeit stripped down. Whereas Skype for Business allows for meetings with up to 250 people, Skype Meetings limits the maximum participants to 10 people. However after the initial two months of using the product, that number drops down to three people.
Both Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile are inconsequential in the mobile market. In other words, Microsoft has largely failed with its mobile platforms.
With that said, Microsoft is not a failure in mobile overall. Its applications and services work brilliantly on the mobile platforms that matter -- Android and iOS. Today, the Windows-maker announces that Xiaomi will be pre-installing both Office and Skype on its Android devices.
So there I was, typing away after using a couple of coffees to make myself feel vaguely human. Up popped a notification from Skype. This was odd. I don’t use Skype because I absolutely loathe it. The app isn’t even running. Nonetheless, there it is: a notification telling me that I have been signed into my account.
While I don’t use Skype, I do have a Skype username from back in days gone by -- but this wasn't the account Windows 10 told me I had been signed into. Rather it appeared that Microsoft had created a secondary Skype account for me (gee, thanks...) based on my name and decided to randomly sign me in to foist the terrible messaging app on me. What gives?
In the past week the world has suffered several earthquakes, striking firstly in Japan and then in Ecuador. Both were followed by aftershocks that still continue and each robbed the world of lives. It's a tragedy with broad repercussions, as family members from around the world seek word on their loved ones.
Microsoft immediately jumped in to offer free Skype calls to Japan and now the software giant is doing the same for those with family in Ecuador.
While many people worry about terrorism as a threat to human lives, and understandably so, mother nature can be quite destructive too. Between natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, nature can be downright scary.
Speaking of earthquakes, Japan has been dealing with many of them lately in Kyushu, causing death, injuries, and destruction. If you have friends or family in that country, and you are worried about them, Microsoft is here to help. It is currently offering free calls to Japan through its Skype communication service.
As a Linux user, I have stopped using Skype recently. What was once a great experience on Ubuntu, Fedora, and other such operating systems, has been seemingly abandoned by Microsoft. Skype on Linux is barely usable nowadays, as the client has not seen an update in quite a while. This is rather tragic, as it is otherwise a great service on other platforms, such as Android, iOS, and of course, Windows.
Users of Windows 10 that use the Edge web browser are getting a cool update this month, as Microsoft is rolling out plugin-free Skype support. While that is cool, the really intriguing aspect is the potential for Linux users, as it should lead to similar functionality on browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox.
Seemingly having learned nothing from its AI Twitter chatbot, Tay, Microsoft is experimenting further with bots. At Build 2016 today, the company announced Skype Bots and the Skype Bots Platform.
Designed to "bring expertise, products, services and entertainment" to Skype conversations, Skype Bots can be programmed to respond to chats -- and Microsoft will no doubt be hoping it is not left making another red-faced apology if things go awry. It's all part of Microsoft's vision of "conversation as a platform" and bots are available for the Windows Desktop, Android, iPhone and iPad versions of Skype.
Six-wheeled robots could be delivering groceries to shoppers in the UK within the next six months. Starship Technologies, a company set up by two of the co-founders of Skype, is building up fleets of robots that can deliver goods within 30 minutes.
A pilot of the robotic delivery scheme is due to start in the UK, and a testing program will start in the US in April. The aim of the self-driving robots is not just to speed up deliveries, but also to keep costs to a minimum. The zero-emissions units also boast environmentally-friendly credentials.
OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage solution, is more than just a safe backup for your files. It's also home to the company's online version of Office. Users can access Word, Excel, and more all for free from right there on the website.
The company is also the proud owner of what is, arguably, the top communication app, in the form of Skype. The question when Microsoft purchased Skype was "How will it use this?" Gradually those answers have come around and now there is another instance of the technology being leveraged.
In the year 2016, you would think videoconferencing would be very prevalent in business offices. Unfortunately, many solutions are expensive and confusing -- audio-based conference calls are still quite popular. In order for video conferencing to truly take off, it must be both easy to setup and use.
Today, Logitech announces the ConferenceCam Kit -- a video conferencing bundle powered by the powerful, and diminutive, Intel NUC. Will it prove popular with businesses?
As of 24 March, Microsoft's Skype Qik app will be no more. The video messaging app has essentially been swallowed up by its big brother Skype, meaning that it is now surplus to requirements.
Microsoft says that the reason for the closure is that Skype Qik's features are now available in Skype. As a result of this, iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone users who had come to rely on the tool to keep in touch will have to seek out an alternative and take steps to save any messages they want to keep.
Microsoft is a curious company sometimes. Quite often, it offers wonderful products, but then fails to truly focus on the details. A great example is Skype. On paper, it sounds great -- a cross-platform communication solution. Sadly, the Windows clients are quite ugly, and overall, it can feel half-baked. The company really needs to dedicate some resources to improving the user experience, but I digress.
The largest oversight with Skype, however, is that it can expose your IP address. Sure, there may be situations where you might want to share this, but for many users, it is simply a security and privacy faux pas. Today, Microsoft finally rights this terrible wrong, and will be hiding the IP by default. Better late than never, eh?
Slack is the current communication darling for many small and medium businesses. The SMB-focused communication and collaboration solution is pretty simple -- it is similar to internet relay chat. Just like IRC, you join a channel and have text-based communications with other people. Where it differs, however, is its native ability to integrate with other tools. In other words, its potential is arguably greater than many competitors.
Today, Microsoft announces that it is enhancing Slack in a very special way. The Windows-maker releases a preview of Skype integration for the aforementioned communication solution. The team here at BetaNews uses Slack, so of course, I had to give it a go.