Nine months after Microsoft announced it was acquiring Skype, the voice over IP provider announced its debut on Windows Phone. The announcement makes Skype available on almost all the major mobile smartphone operating systems. The gold version of the app will be available in April, but starting this week, users will be able to download the beta version to test drive Skype for Windows Phone and share feedback with the company.
With Skype for Windows Phone Beta, users can make free audio and video calls to their Skype contacts over 3G and 4G or WiFi, make calls to landlines and mobile phones using Skype Credit, create and hold one-to-one and group chats, and update profile and account information, among others features.
Users can download the beta version of the Skype for Windows Phone app for free through the Windows Phone. The app requires a smartphone running Windows Phone 7.5. The company has already tested and certified a number of devices for the best performance of Skype for Windows Phone, including the Nokia Lumia 710 and Lumia 800, the HTC Titan and HTC Radar, and the Samsung Focus S and Focus Flash.
Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum, said he believes the launch of the app fills one of the obvious application gaps on Microsofts latest smartphone platform. At least in its initial guise, Skype for Windows Phone offers a fairly typical Skype experience on smartphones running as a standalone application, he said. We expect this to change in future iterations with Skype becoming a more pervasive part of the Windows Phone software platform and experience, with its functionality integrated tightly with applications and services across the phone increasing its utility.
Moreover, Cripps said this is an important step in Microsofts strategy to make Skype a ubiquitousand unavoidablepart of its product portfolio, integrated wherever it makes sense to do so. He said a pervasive Skype has much greater potential to disrupt existing models of communication than one that is dependent on users proactively choosing to install it.
In this capacity, it could begin to act as a social glue helping to drive usage of the service and furthering sales of Skype-enabled Microsoft products considerably in future, he said. It could eventually help blur the lines between business users and consumers with Skype increasingly seen as simply a convenient tool to communication available anywhere.