Microsoft Announces Coming Skype Features

Posted on September 27, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Skype with 49 Comments

In an unexpected twist, Microsoft announced today that it is planning several new features for Skype, its consumer communications platform. What’s so unexpected about that, you ask? Well, Microsoft has been planning to kill off Skype in lieu of Microsoft Teams for years. But now it says that Skype is “here to stay.”

“Skype has been in our lives for nearly two decades, and we are here to stay,” an unattributed post to the Skype Blogs reads. “We care about all of you, our Skype users, so we … [have] plans for an improved, faster, reliable, and super modern-looking Skype.”

Here’s what’s coming to the walking dead:

Calling stage modernization. Microsoft is adding new layouts, beautiful theming, and other new features to the Skype calling stage, which is its weird name for the interface you see when you’re conversing with one or more other people. You will be able to see yourself on the main view during a call, view multiple people with a more natural grid, disable the video stream, and hide audio-only participants from the calling stage.

Other modern features. The chat header is getting updated with a new layout, a group avatar, and button gradients. The left side panel in the main Skype window is likewise being redesigned with Fluent icons throughout. And Skype will support vibrant new color themes.

Improved Meet Now. This Windows 10-only feature is being redesigned to be even lighter weight, easier to use, and better looking.

Browser support. The web version of Skype will natively support “all browsers,” Microsoft says, alongside icons of Edge, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

Office Lens on iOS. The iPhone version of Skype is getting camera improvements thanks to Office Lens so you can “capture your memories, create videos or scan documents, whiteboards and business cards in the smartest way.”

TwinCam. This intriguing feature will let Skype users add a second camera—perhaps on their smartphones—to a call so you can show two things at once.

Notification sounds customization. Microsoft will let users choose their own notification sounds.

New reactions chooser. Using a new reactions chooser, you will be able to choose any emotion and react within two seconds. Microsoft claims. It will also support search, reactions organization, and pinned items.

PSTN translation. Skype Universal Translator will be able to translate phone calls on the fly between languages. It supports all languages and works on landlines as well as video calls.

Improved performance. Skype is about to get 30 percent faster on desktop and an incredible 2000 percent faster on Android thanks to modernizing the media stack.

I’m honestly not sure what to make of this, given the years-long push to improve Teams and bring it to consumers. But it appears as if Skype isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.

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Comments (49)

49 responses to “Microsoft Announces Coming Skype Features”

  1. winner

    What about more ads?

    That would not surprise me.

    When Microsoft first took over Skype, it was simple, reliable, and easy to use.

    • bluvg

      Skype was a poor IM app for what it replaced (Messenger), but better for video calls. They have since greatly improved the IM side, and after an ugly period a few years back, it's easily the best of the bunch out there, IMO.

  2. spiderman2

    "Skype is about to get 30 percent faster on desktop"

    and how much slower and heavier compared to the UWP one?

  3. madthinus

    All I read from this post is this. Teams is not getting traction with consumers. So build a better Skype that interoperate.

  4. John Craig

    How bizarre. I'm assuming then, that there are still people out there who use Skype. They should both meet in real life, for the lolz.

  5. Bart

    "Here’s what’s coming to the walking dead"


  6. jchampeau

    It’s too bad no one in charge ever seems to ask, “How will this affect normal people?” Say what you will about Steve Jobs (and there is plenty to say about him to be sure), but he knew how things would come across to people. He wanted things to make sense, have a clear purpose, and be pleasing to use. Microsoft needs someone like that to set a vision and have enough authority to make people stop this nonsense and work together to achieve the vision.

  7. shark47

    I like Skype but no one I know uses it anymore. It’s all Zoom for larger meetings and FaceTime for impromptu calls. If Microsoft thinks Teams for Life will take off, good luck!

  8. Pierre Masse

    What about just making it reliable?

    • bluvg

      I would understand that criticism over a couple years ago (I think related to their move away from P2P comms), but it's been very solid for me for quite a while. Do you still have trouble with it today?

  9. peterc

    The twin cams feature gets my attention...... that would be very useful.

    • proftheory

      In Amateur Radio FCC license exams are done virtually with two cameras.

      One to observe the person taking the test and the other the room o that they are not getting any assistance.

  10. mobispoke

    This is great to hear. Without citation, Paul insists Microsoft has been planning to kill Skype off with Teams for Life "for years" despite the fact that Chris Capacillo told him last year on Windows Weekly that Skype was here to stay. Skype has certainly been less consistent in conveying updates on its blog, but over the past year Skype has released nearly a dozen updates with substantive improvements on a steady cadence (the project manager announces most preview releases on Well, until this August when it seemed to have slowed down when Manik Gupta was hired. It seemed the pause may have been driven by a recalibration, certainly not a complete disruption, given this welcome news on upcoming feature updates.

    For better or for worse I installed Windows 11 on my main machine this week. The first thing I did was remove the Teams chat icon on the task bar. I am big Teams user... for work. Literally no family members are on Teams and because Teams for life. I tried using it for a family meeting once in lieu of Skype and several of the family members were never able to join the meeting because of error messages. A kill off of Skype would be a complete exit from consumer given Teams is way behind in drawing consumer attention.

    • christianwilson

      Chris Capossela said that Skype and Teams were converging and he did talk about phasing out the Skype brand for Teams on the consumer end. It's about 40 minutes into last December's Windows Weekly.

      What Chris did stress is that Skype, the technology, isn't going away because it is powering the video conferencing in Teams.

      Clearly something changed in that strategy, though, because Chris also said that the path to get consumers on Teams would become clearer in about a year's time and it is now more confusing than ever.

      I wonder if consumer Teams adoption has been low, or enough feedback has been received, that they had to pump the brakes on this and keep Skype going longer.

      • bluvg

        Wasn't that Skype for Business Online? That is definitely merging with Teams and EOL (though on-prem will continue... for now).

        Rebranding Lync as Skype for Business was dumbbbbbb. So much confusion as a result.

  11. CMDV

    Hopefully keeping it simple (stupid).

    Teams = business.

    Skype = consumer.

    How it should have been from start. Let's see what happens (this time around).

  12. ebraiter

    "Microsoft will let users choose their own notification sounds." - We had that years ago.

    Would also like to see better spelling management such as adding/editing/removing words to Skype.

  13. district

    I'll admit - after reading the post - it looks like a lot of the new "features" coming to Skype are ways to port the Team for Personal interface over. So flipping between views, navigating the UI, etc - all become second nature to folks who are using Skype. Which ultimately is a good thing, right?

  14. richfrantz

    Skype should have owned WFH during the pandemic.

  15. qaelith2112

    I guess the focus here is on "consumer version". It isn't clear still what is to happen with Skype for Business. Right now I'm in a company that is using both that AND Teams -- because Teams still doesn't seem to have the one-to-one on-demand messaging that Skype has, and we're using Skype for all of the company's telephony including physical desk phones that are actually operating through Skype on the back-end. They were waiting for Teams to evolve these capabilities before killing Skype but now I'm wondering if we will be using both for the long term.

    • bluvg

      Skype for Business Online is EOL, but on-prem will continue (not sure for how long, though). "Skype" has nothing to do with "Skype for Business" (terrible branding), unless you count the ability to federate.

      You can do one-to-one IM in Teams in the Chat section (unless it's disabled).

  16. javial

    Microsoft destroys Skype when its kill Skype Classic.

  17. TallITGuy

    Maybe I missed a memo? I was never under the impression that Microsoft was planning to kill Skype in favour of Teams - The talk was always that they were going to kill Skype for Business (aka Lync) in favour of Teams. Considering that SfB has been EOL'd as far as I know, it seems they've done exactly that.

  18. waethorn

    Seriously, Microsoft? WTF?!


    Windows 11 is going to be a big mess of redundant, unnecessary crapware just like Windows 10.

  19. Daishi

    I genuinely can’t believe how badly Microsoft keep screwing this up.

    • mattbg

      At least they are doing it faster and getting it over with before anyone knows what happened.

      ...if they are indeed already realizing that Skype and not Teams is the way to go for personal comms. For all we know, they could be realizing that there needs to be a longer transition period and that losing many, many Skype people that do not migrate to Teams is a very real risk.

    • bluvg

      Are we talking about the same Skype? It was a mess for a couple years a while back, but it's easily my favorite IM platform by far today.

  20. rmlounsbury

    Curious that Microsoft is doing this with Skype while also trying to push Teams for Life as part of the Windows 11 OS on the taskbar.

    I still think it makes far more sense to keep Skype around as the consumer communication/collaboration platform and Teams as the enterprise side.

    • will

      I agree. Skype is a better brand and identity than Teams. Just the name "Teams" is more for business than home. They could work together, Skype users join Teams meetings and Teams users could IM or call Skype users, but they would be focused on Home vs Business.

    • djross95

      That makes far too much sense for MS to ever consider...

  21. bluvg

    Paul, you obviously have the inside scoop, but I never saw confirmation anywhere from Microsoft that it was planning to kill Skype in favor of Teams. Is this tacit confirmation that you had received word it would be killing off Skype?

  22. mattbg

    "Skype powered by Teams" was always the way to go. Even if it's just a skin on Teams, something for use with family & friends can't be called "Teams".

    I'd find it offensive if someone said they were going to "Teams" me, but I'm perfectly OK with being Skyped.

    • taswinfan

      Yes. This is the way. Just change the freaking name on windows to Skype and keep it as they have integrated it into windows 11. And on Android update the Skype app to use the teams personal. But separate the apps and clearly differentiate the branding. It gets confusing having to juggle between two accounts (one personal and one work) in the teams app on phone.

      Then again office sounds to formal yet everyone buys a subscription even if they only write up a word document once a year only... So who knows, maybe just massive exposure by way of the taskbar will eliminate any issues in a few years.

  23. bluvg

    Greatly relieved to hear this. Teams is fine, but I don't think it's a one-for-one replacement for Skype, or at least unnecessary to kill one in favor of the other. The overall cost of killing off Skype outweighs the cost of keeping it.

  24. jdjan

    I am so confused!

  25. gardner

    If you think of Microsoft as a place where battles are held endlessly, decisions are never final, power is represented by the ability to force public statements supporting your position, and even greater power is the ability to announce something opposite at a later time, the endless stream of conflicting messages makes perfect sense. Combine that with communications being in the hands of those unable to communicate clearly, and you have a recipe for the current Microsoft. Remember

    "the strategic way of accessing databases"? Or the feature set of Windows? Or the way Updates are to be delivered? Or the direction of conferences? Or the structure of the insider program? Or the way that Office would adopt the insider program? Or if something is a phone or not? Everything is an endless battle. And power is the ability to reverse the decisions of your predecessor?

  26. blue77star

    I uninstalled Teams in Windows 11 because it is next to useless. Installed Skype so I can talk to family members.

  27. rmac

    I thought Windows 11 was meant to be the de facto OS for the hybrid scenario of home and business, yet in this instance I need 2 apps if I am to conference at home and at work. Assuming Skype doesn't morph into Teams when I change environments or I can toggle some switch, will this mean I need two apps for writing letters at home vs work etc?

  28. jdawgnoonan

    At least you can finally change the ring tone. Skype has never really changed in a positive way since before the Windows 8 Era.

    • bluvg

      Wow, I disagree completely. Skype was great, then was a real mess for a while there, but it's been even better for a long time now. Of all the IM apps in common use today (WhatsApp *ugh*), Viber (*ugh*), LINE (*ugh!*), Messenger (*UGH!*), Teams), it's easily my favorite, by far.

      • jdawgnoonan

        I'm likely guilty of having gotten so disgusted with Skype during the Windows 8 / 8.1 Era that I was never willing to give it a chance again. The other apps you listed that it's better than are also all apps I would not consider using and even though I do not like Skype I would choose it over them.

  29. veermaharaj

    Skype technically is it's own little thing under the microsoft umbrella. But they have been so busy trying to build modern apps and toe the line on every microsoft platforms initiative, and not focus on what they are supposed to be all about, be the best communications app. Skype is so damn so, so damn clunky. On android, whatsapp load almost immediately, skype... takes 15+ seconds to load. The calls ring unreliably.

    But skype lets you make actual phone calls, which teams afaik, does not.

    • bluvg

      Can't speak for Android, but Skype works well on iOS. More importantly (I think), it works really well on desktop, which very few others do today (the WhatsApp app requires your phone to be running WhatsApp... what?!).

      Teams can make 1-1 calls, including PSTN calls if you pay for it.

  30. thewarragulman

    10 years ago if I knew there was a global pandemic going to happen in the future and we'd all be video conferencing as a necessity I would have never imagined Skype being an also-ran in the communications market, but here we are. The brand had such a strong position in the market but now when video conferencing is super mainstream and even necessary today, you never hear people mentioning Skype. Zoom & FaceTime are usually people's default answers with Teams & Slack being popular in the enterprise. It's such a shame that the Skype brand got so tarnished by Microsoft's poor decisions making it lackluster over the years, 10 years ago when Microsoft made the Skype purchase literally none of those other solutions I mentioned existed except for FaceTime, and that was iOS only at the time. Skype was the king of the market, if you wanted to video chat you used Skype, now it hardly exists and I don't understand why Microsoft are keeping it alive when they have a better solution in the market now that Teams is free to use.

    • bluvg

      As a simple personal comms app, I'd easily take Skype over Teams. Teams is rather bulky for personal use, unless you really need all the extra hoopla.

  31. lewk

    I'm so happy to hear this!

  32. markbyrn

    As a long-time user of Skype, very happy to hear it.

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