Microsoft Lowers Friction Between Skype Experiences on Windows 10

Further blurring the lines between voice calls, video chats and text conversations, Microsoft updates the Skype app for Windows 10.

Microsoft Skype

Skype is synonymous with making voice and video calls over the internet. Recently, a new update to the Windows 10 version of Skype promises to turn the popular communications app into a more well-rounded player.

Microsoft continues to blend Skype's chat-based conversation capabilities with its video and calling features by breaking down the barriers between each experience. The latest update to Skype for Windows 10 moves things a step further with interface tweaks that allow users to quickly start new chat sessions, place calls or access their profiles by clicking on the new icons that appear atop the recent conversations list.

A more seamless way trading files and other content also awaits users of the operating system's built-in sharing feature. "Now you can easily share files, videos, photos, links and more directly to Skype from your Windows 10 PC; just click on the Windows share charm, and select Skype," instructed Vicky Gkiza, Skype principal group program manager at Microsoft, in a July 14 announcement.

Taking a cue from Facebook and other social apps, the updated Skype application also makes it easier to drop an emoji into a conversation by tapping the new reaction icon that appears within each message. According to new research released today by Microsoft , there's a good chance that millennial users, at least, will put the new feature to work.

Emoji use in the workplace is common, but not indiscriminate, among millennials, found a survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Microsoft.

A whopping 88 percent said they use emoticons at work while communicating with co-workers who also happen to be friends. The survey also found 65 percent said emoticons are best used in one-on-one conversations and 41 percent use them to better personalize messages. With an eye toward the efficient use of their time, 21 percent said they use emoticons as a faster alternative to typing out full thoughts.

Coming from a boss, emoticons generally make millennials feel proud or happy when they are used as a part of positive feedback. Despite these favorable outcomes, there are times emoticon use can veer into the profoundly unprofessional.

Most millennial workers (63 percent) said they would feel awkward and otherwise uncomfortable if their boss included a love-related emoticon—think a heart or kissy face emoji—in their conversations.

Overall, emojis are becoming an increasingly acceptable part of business communications, at least in some contexts. Naturally, Microsoft is tailoring its software offerings to suit.

"Microsoft is happy to provide professionals of all generations with the tools to succeed in the workplace, through Skype, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Outlook and more," stated the company in a July 17 blog post. "All forms of creative content—whether it be Skype Mojis, emoticons or GIFs, on your laptop, mobile device or in emails—are now an essential tactic for top notch communication skills. Whatever your communication preference, we recommend you update to the latest version so that you can have all the content available at your fingertips."

On the mobile front, Microsoft announced that is reintroducing the contact status display feature and native sharing capabilities to the iOS and Android versions of the Skype app. The company is also working on user interface enhancements aimed at improving legibility along with new theme and color customization options.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...