Microsoft Modernizes Skype for Linux, Courts Chromebook Users
The Linux version of the software is finally getting a long-awaited overhaul. Meanwhile, Chromebook users can now make voice calls by using Skype on the Web.While Skype on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android now sports a more modern look and feel, time has stood still on the Linux side of the fence for two years. Skype 4.3 for Linux was released in June 2014 without a major update since. Meanwhile, there has been no shortage of updates and user interface (UI) enhancements for its counterparts on other platforms. This week, Microsoft offered Linux users an early peek at the new Skype experience that awaits them in the coming months. The new Skype for Linux client is based on WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication), the browser-based audio, video and content-sharing technology. Apart from the software's new Web-inspired underpinnings, early testers can take the new UI for a spin, but with some limitations. "As you may have guessed by the name, Skype for Linux Alpha is not a fully functioning Skype client yet," said Claudius Henrichs, a Microsoft Skype community manager, in a June 13 announcement. "Once you've downloaded the app, you'll notice that it's very different from the Skype for Linux client you use today. For example, you'll be using the latest, fast and responsive Skype UI, you can share files, photos and videos and send a whole new range of new emoticons."
While users can call others who are using the latest versions of Skype on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, the software is incompatible with the previous versions of Skype for Linux, added Henrichs. According to an online support document, other missing features currently include video calling, SMS messaging and public switched telephone network (PSTN) capabilities used to call landlines and cellphones. Microsoft hopes to update the client every few weeks and indicated that video calling will be among the first couple of updates.