Earlier this year, Microsoft launched a new encrypted chat feature for Skype in a limited preview. Today, the company seems to have started rolling out the feature to all users on all platforms after months of testing, as first spotted by MSPU.
Skype’s new encrypted chat feature is simply called Private Conversations, which allows users to start end-to-end encrypted conversations. The feature supports end-to-end encryption for audio, text messages, and files, but it’s not supported for video calls.
When you start a new private conversation on Skype, the recipient will first have to accept your request, and you can then start sending encrypted messages. Skype also provides you with the ability to view the secret key for your encrypted conversations, in case you wanted to be 100% sure the chat is end-to-end encrypted. These private conversations are completely in a separate tab from the normal, unencrypted chat, and you can end a private conversation whenever you want. Keep in mind that ending a private conversation doesn’t remove the messages sent during the conversation, which might be a little odd to some — but you can manually delete the private conversation if you’d like.
Let’s be honest, end-to-end encryption should have arrived on Skype ages ago. Most messaging services nowadays include end-to-end encryption, with Skype being one of the exceptions until today. Services like WhatsApp even offer end-to-end encryption for all messages, and that’s likely the (sensible) path Microsoft will take going forward.