Microsoft, Just Bring Back Skype (Premium)

For years, we’ve endured one strategy change after another, but here’s a simple fact: Skype makes more sense for consumers than Teams. So let’s stop pretending, Microsoft, and just bring Skype back to Windows. Seriously.

Microsoft has had a myopic, Teams-centered view of the world since, well, the inception of Teams. And that makes sense … with businesses. The very name of the product suggests its purpose, and the rapid growth and success its seen over the past several years say it all. Again, with businesses.

On the consumer side, it’s fair to say that Microsoft squandered some opportunities with Skype, a product with a good brand, hundreds of millions of users, and lots of exposure on TV shows and movies. But then the pandemic happened, and Microsoft, in the throes of its Teams fixation, was busy figuring out how to remove Skype from Windows and capitalize on Teams. And in doing so, it lost the consumer market to other players, especially Zoom. What a tragedy.

As the dust settles on the pandemic---hopefully for good---we’re left with the hangover triggered by this fixation on getting Teams in the hands of consumers: a horrible client, cluelessly also called Teams, that’s embedded like a tick in Windows 11 but incompatible with real Teams and used by no one. Can I get a quick golf clap for this sad affront, please? Thank you.

During all this, there were occasional outbursts from what is left of the Skype team, little reminders that work was somehow progressing on this client that the rest of Microsoft forgot. In September 2021, for example, the Skype team declared that “Skype is here to stay,” as it announced several new features for what I called “the walking dead.” And then today, inexplicably, Skype announced a new TruVoice feature and other new features.

Looking at the Skype blog, I can see that this announcement was only the second official utterance from this team all year, the other being a real-time translation and subtitles feature from August. It published 14 blog posts the previous year, which is when Windows 11 and its built-in consumer Teams client appeared. I mean, the signs were everywhere.

But maybe not. Maybe it’s time to rethink things.

And the answer here---the answers, really---are clear. Microsoft should replace the consumer Teams client in Windows 11 with Skype. And it should build a Skype app for Teams, or perhaps some Skype interoperability into Teams, so that those business users who need to use that client only need to use one client: they can use Teams and Skype in a single app. Done and done.

Come on, Microsoft. Let’s kick off 2023 with good news for your consumer customers.

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