The release of Windows 10 means that Skype will no longer offer separate apps for touchscreens and traditional mouse/keyboard setups. One had to go, and Microsoft decided it would be the modern Skype app for Windows.
Beginning July 7, users who try to open the touchscreen app on Windows 8 or higher will be redirected to a download page for the desktop version. No mention was made about a universal app that would suit all platforms.
The change was announced by Skype in a blog post. "With the upcoming release of Windows 10 for PCs, it makes sense to use the Skype application optimized for mouse and keyboards use, capable of doing touch as well rather than two separate applications performing the same function," said Aga Guzik, head of Desktop Product Marketing for Skype.
Sick of the Swipe
Users have been unhappy with the differences between the two brands of apps. The newer version is easier to use on touchscreens, but requires lots of swiping to get at information. It also excludes features such as screen sharing and group video calls. Skype has said it was trying to make the two versions compatible, but that plan might have been scotched when Microsoft recently revamped its desktop app design and integrated the Skype Translator Preview.
We reached out to David Glazer, a consulting analyst and CIO advisory for Info-Tech, who told us the swiping limitations are indeed a problem, especially for certain markets. He said he consulted recently with an assistive tech company and found that Windows 8 was considered to be the least accessible operating system on the market mainly because of all the swiping required.
"They’ve since worked on the issue and my understanding is that they have made progress," said Glazer. "Swiping however, as a function, is difficult to modify or overlay and make accessible to people with motor impairments."
10 Is the Future
Glazer noted that given the challenges in unifying the Skype user experience for mobile and desktop, it makes sense for Skype to suspend work around Windows 8 and focus on the future: Windows 10.
"This is purely speculative, but it could indicate that Windows 10 will have less swipe functionality and more click-open instead, given the ease of creating a unified experience," said Glazer. "Clicking a mouse transfers much easier to tapping on a screen than swiping does. In the short term, this may mean leaving some users out in the cold. However, it would likely open the app up to more users overall in the long run."
As for apps built into Messaging, Phone and Skype video coming to Windows 10, the company said it will begin rolling them out for user feedback later this year.