With Windows 8, Microsoft said that it would focus on the Modern app version of Skype, releasing new features there before the desktop application version. But with the failure of that platform, there’s been a not-so-subtle shift in development, and this week Microsoft made it official: it is killing off the Modern app version of Skype and will now—again—focus on the desktop application instead.
This is a major turnaround, and it says a lot about the shifting fortunes of Microsoft’s mobile platform efforts. But it’s also the right choice: the desktop version of Skype is far more full-featured and polished than the Modern version. And it would take years—if it were even possible—to ever meld it into a universal app that could work as well as the desktop app.
So I was curious to see how Microsoft explains this change. Not surprisingly, it’s being positioned as a big win for users. (And, honestly, it is.)
“We’re simplifying your PC experience down to one app that you can use either with your mouse and keyboard or with touch,” a post to the Skype Garages & Updates blog notes. “Starting on July 7, we’re updating PC users of the Windows modern application to the Windows desktop application, and retiring the modern application.”
A bit less honestly, Microsoft claims that with “the upcoming release of Windows 10 for PCs, it makes sense to use the Skype application optimized for mouse and keyboards use, capable of doing touch as well rather than two separate applications performing the same function.” That’s because the original plan was to phase out the desktop app, and a Modern/universal app version of Skype would fulfill the same need. But priorities have shifted.
Anyway, this was the right decision.
If you are using the Skype Modern app for some reason, you will be “directed to download the desktop application” starting July 7. It doesn’t appear that Microsoft will actually delete the Modern app, and the firm notes that “if you’re on a Windows RT tablet device, there is no change for you,” suggesting that the Modern app—the only one that works on RT—will continue to work. (To be clear, the Skype Modern app isn’t just any app. It’s actually part of Windows, and it ships with Windows 8.1, including the Windows RT version.)
I never used the Skype Modern app anyway, and in fact routinely remove it as part of my initial Setup routine. I can’t think of a single reason why anyone would prefer it over the desktop version.