The Windows 10 Insider build 17704 brought us a brand new Skype inbox app yesterday, replacing the UWP version which no longer seems to be priority for Microsoft. Indeed, except a timid Fluent Design update in recent months, Skype UWP was clearly lagging behind the modern Skype app (v8) that launched on all platforms except Windows 10 last year.
It looks like Microsoft finally decided to consolidate its various Skype apps on Windows, as the new Skype app shipping with Windows 10 Insider build 17704 is actually the same as the new cross-platform Skype app that launched last year, with some subtle differences. By replacing Skype UWP, this version drops support for SMS Relay, a feature which allowed Windows 10 Mobile users to set Skype UWP as their default messaging app and send text messages from their PC. The feature has always been a bit buggy, and it seems that Microsoft is finally ready to shut it down for good this year.
The build number for Skype for Windows 10 is 220.127.116.11, which is a bit higher than the one for the regular Skype desktop app (18.104.22.168 as of this writing). However, the Skype for Windows 10 still seems to be less advanced, and here are the main differences we noticed compared to the regular Skype desktop app:
- The app doesn’t support Skype add-ins, which let you use third-party services such as TripAdvisor or Giphy within your conversations. Options for sharing your location or sending money via Paypal are also missing in this build.
- Despite the option being in Settings, the app doesn’t show your accent color in conversations. As a result, chat bubbles use different shades of dark grey when you use the dark theme, or grey and light blue bubbles when using the light theme.
- There are no options for automatically launching Skype when you boot your PC, or keep Skype running in the System tray when you close the app.
Despite these omissions, this new version of Skype for Windows 10 seems to have kept some handy features previously available in the UWP version, such as support for push notifications and integration with My People in the task bar. However, we noticed that there is no Live Tile support as of today, and notifications are also no longer actionable.
Overall, this new Skype app is a real improvement over the previous UWP version, and it will likely receive updates much more frequently. The deprecation of SMS Relay may be disappointing for Windows 10 Mobile users, but Microsoft's new messaging strategy is now focused on the upcoming Your Phone app for Windows 10, which will soon let iOS and Android users sync and send text messages from a Windows 10 PC.