Skype Updated, Arrives on BlackBerry Z10

Skype obsessed? Microsoft can't stop issuing updates for its VoIP and video communications platform. Meanwhile, SkyDrive's latest enhancements focus on photos.

Microsoft isn't resting on its laurels when it comes to its popular voice over IP (VoIP) and video calling platform, Skype.

And there's a lot at stake. According to the company, its massive user base spends 2 billion minutes a day on Skype.

On April 29, Microsoft announced that it was rolling out a preview of Skype for for users in the United States and the U.K. Now, the company's turning its attention to Skype's desktop and mobile offerings.

Microsoft announced on May 13 that it had issued new updates to both the Windows OS and Windows Phone versions of the communications app. While considered "minor," the improvements could go a long way in alleviating issues for some users.

The latest version of Skype 6.3 for Windows "improves the quality and stability of the application," revealed a brief blog post by the head of Skype desktop product marketing, Aga Guzik. The update builds on a March 14 maintenance release that fixed several bugs. Skype 6.3 remedied some show-stopping flaws that could result in some frustrating user interface inconsistencies or, in the case of loading a big snapshot gallery, could cause the application to freeze.

Skype 6.3 was soon followed by version 1.6 for Windows 8. The March 29 release improved loading times for the touch-friendly app, fixed numerous bugs and added contact blocking.

Illustrating the importance of apps that just work in the mobile arena, improved reliability is the theme behind the newest version of Skype for Windows Phone 8.

"In this release we focused on further increasing the reliability of chat and call notifications, improving reliability of calls to phone numbers and resolving occasional missing message preview in the recent conversations list," wrote Derek Snyder, head of Mobile Marketing for Skype, in an official blog post.

Snyder also indicated that Microsoft is working on a fix of an issue that may prevent users from multitasking. Currently, when Skype is sent to the background during a video call, the video stops, forcing both users to restart the app and begin the call anew. In addition, the company plans to address issues affecting Microsoft accounts and a bug that causes Skype to keep ringing if a call is picked up on another device.

To coincide with this week's BlackBerry Live event in Orlando, Fla., and the release of the BlackBerry 10.1 update for the Z10 smartphone, Microsoft revealed that its Skype app for the platform now runs on the all-touch Z10 model. Currently in preview, the Skype for BlackBerry 10.1 app already runs on the Q10, which features a keyboard.

Skype isn't the only popular online service from Microsoft to receive upgrades.

New photo-centric tweaks are coming to SkyDrive. These include a new timeline view, a new thumbnail layout, and Windows Phone full-resolution camera uploads of photos and videos to all markets. The desktop software is now subject to a 2x to 3x improvement in upload times due to "changes to both the app and the server code," informed SkyDrive Program Manager Omar Shahine in a May 13 advisory.

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 network of...