What the Skype app for Windows 8 is missing
The Internet was buzzing with news that Microsoft released the Skype app early yesterday during the release of Skype 6.0 for Windows and Macintosh systems. I was not able to confirm that yesterday as the app was not available in Windows Store at that time. Today however it is listed in the store and I decided to install it to take a look at its functionality and more importantly settings that it makes available.
Good news is, you do not need to sign in at all if you are signed in with a Microsoft Account in Windows 8. If you have linked a Microsoft account to Skype, you will automatically see your Skype contacts and last messages on the start screen. I was not asked to do that as I have already done so during one of the beta desktop releases of Skype that introduced the feature. I can't say for sure if you will be asked to merge your Skype account with your Microsoft Account when you first run the app but it is very likely that you will.
You will notice that the Skype app lacks several features that the desktop version of Skype makes available. From what I can see, this includes the following features:
- You can't group contacts anymore. While you can move some to the favorites, you can't create groups anymore to sort contacts in to.
- File transfer does not appear to be available.
- You can't chat with multiple contacts at the same time. On the desktop, chats open in an extra window, since you do not have that luxury in the app, you can't effectively communicate with multiple contacts.
- You can't hide offline / unavailable contacts automatically.
- You can't change the interface language, it is always set to the system language.
- You can't change profile related settings in the app, including changing the password or the profile picture.
- You can't backup or restore contacts, or import contacts directly.
- You only can set your status to online or invisible.
I may have missed a few features that the Skype app does not support in its current version.
The always on remark during the Skype presentation caused concern as well. The Skype app asks you during first run whether you want to run Skype in the background all the time, or only when it is active. You can change that setting easily in the options, provided that you find them.
The settings are located in the Charms Bar when you open it while Skype is running. Remember, Windows 8 apps display their settings always in the Charms Bar which may be confusing at first as you do not necessarily come to the conclusion that the settings can be found there.
So, press Windows-C to open the Charms Bar and there on Settings to open the Skype specific settings on the screen.
The options let you make changes to the following features:
- Incoming video and screen sharing (set to start automatically)
- Who can call you (set to everyone)
- Who can send you instant messages (set to only contacts)
- Clear all conversation history
- Answer incoming calls automatically (set to no)
- Default location for emergency calls (blank)
The Permissions menu handles app permissions. Here you select whether the app is allowed to run in the background all the time.
The Skype app lacks several features that Skype desktop users have been working with for years. This includes file transfers, multiple chats at the same time and options to manage the account right in the Skype software.
It is likely that the majority of Windows 8 users (not Windows RT) will stick with the desktop application because of this. It is not clear if Microsoft will implement some of the missing features into the app at a later point in time.Advertisement