Today is a good day. Step one in Skype becoming a universal messaging client has taken place. Oh I know, Skype already does a lot, but the user experience has been...less than friendly.

Specifically, I’m talking about the ability to sync messages – “read” versus “not read” – across devices and platforms. The situation should be familiar: you open up Skype on Windows Phone after chatting all day at the PC, only to have a barrage of “new” messages come in that you read hours earlier. It’s infuriating and time consuming if you have dozens of chat sessions.

Luckily, that hindrance should now be over through some backend updates from Skype.

Skype posted the news on their blog today, and it’s certainly a step in the right direction. We use Skype all day here at Windows Phone Central for intra-company communications, so this is a big deal for our team. Skype went on to explain about sending messages to people not online too:

“We also understand the importance of knowing that messages you send have been delivered and that you receive all of the messages sent to you. Now you can have peace of mind that your friends will receive messages even if they’re not on Skype at the time you hit “send,” and, if you’ve read a Skype message on your phone, it’ll show as “read” when you check your messages on your laptop later in the evening.”

However, there is still work to do as there still needs to be a fix for notifications across devices. That’s still a problem, where if you have a Surface, your Windows Phone, your PC and the Xbox, all may ring at one time for an incoming call. What’s worse, answering the call won’t silence the rest.  Skype is working to improve that as well, though there’s no firm ETA on that feature.

Skype has all the potential in the world, so it’s great to see Microsoft finally starting to get some core user experiences right. Let’s hope it continues.

Skype for Modern Windows 2.5

In related news, Skype updated their Modern Windows app for you Surface and PC users. The update came out yesterday and if you’re on 8.1, you probably already have it installed. Here’s what’s new:

  • New add people option– we’ve added the ability to add contacts from the people page. To add someone, just select the icon below, type in a name, email address, Microsoft account or SkypeID. Additionally, just like before, you can add people directly from search or when swiping the command bar.
  • Who’s available? – if you wish to sort your people list just by those who are online, you can always see who’s available by selecting people and then toggling between the options for all and available (hint: most icons and menus are selectable in Windows 8.1). With this release, we also made this view accessible for people who have less than 20 contacts.
  • A little silence please – like a little quiet? We’ve turned off IM sounds for your current conversation so you can get some peace of mind. This will not affect sounds for new instant messages you’re getting from other people. If you liked the in conversation sounds and want to turn them back on, you can go to Share Charm>>Settings>>Options>> Mute IM Sounds in current chat and toggle to No.To share your feedback or to get the latest news and tips, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and join us on the Skype Community.

Sounds good to us and combined with today’s backend updates, hopefully using Skype on our Surface 2 will be less annoying, more productive. Have you noticed the improvements? Has it changed your thoughts on using Skype? Let us know your thoughts!

Note: Today’s user experience and message syncing improvement do not require software updates to our knowledge, they’re all backend. So there should be no need to check for an app update.

Source: Skype Blog 1, 2