Skype Offers Speedier Syncing on Windows 8.1

A new update for users of Microsoft's latest OS remedies one of the multiplatform software's biggest annoyances and ensures that mobile and desktop Skype clients are no longer out of sync.

Microsoft is promising a smoother Skype experience on Windows 8.1 with an update that does a better job syncing Skype across different platforms.

Skype 2.6, available now at the Windows Store, will help stop Skype apps from displaying mismatched information. "With this update, if you have Skype running on multiple devices, your read chats and picked up calls will sync automatically," wrote Aga Guzik, head of Desktop Product Marketing at Skype, in a March 10 blog post.

Similarly, Skype now does a better job of keeping chat sessions up-to-date, regardless of the device in use. Chat history and read messages are now automatically synced. "This way, wherever you are, you can continue the conversation you started," stated Guzik. "You can also send an IM while someone is offline and they will receive it the next time they sign in."

The update is part of the company's ongoing efforts to improve Skype's chat and messaging functionality and unify the experience across multiple devices. Microsoft's goal is to allow users to pick up where they left off seamlessly as they switch to a smartphone or tablet. Skype apps are available for iOS, Android, Mac OS and, of course, Windows.

Microsoft is also working on delivering a snappier, more responsive Skype experience that stretches battery life. In a Feb. 13 blog post, Elaine Ansell, a Microsoft senior marketing manager, said users would "see improvements to battery life, startup times, and resume times."

The Skype group "improved load times for the app and for recent conversations," informed Ansell. She added that "it's now faster to return to the app when it's not running in the foreground as well as faster to start up, allowing you to chat all day every day without the fear of unwanted battery drain." Further, Microsoft plans to roll out roaming for Favorites contact lists and notifications that follow users on the devices that they are currently using, eliminating duplicate notifications on an unused smartphone or tablet, for instance.

Skype 2.6 also addresses an irritating quirk that has plagued users who run Skype on multiple devices. "When you pick up a call on any device and your modern Skype is on, the incoming ring will stop much faster," preventing other devices from continuing to ring after a conversation has started, stated Guzik. "Whether you have Skype on a mobile, in your inbox, desktop, tablet or 2-in-1, Skype calls will sync up wherever you choose to take the call from," she added.

The update follows a recent batch of enhancements that Microsoft issued for Skype on, the company's popular online email service. A new browser plug-in for PC users enables HD video calls directly from within the inbox, and a separate plug-in enables support for Safari under Mac OS X.

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...