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Experts weigh in on the future of Skype and Microsoft Teams Consumer

Skype on iOS
Skype on iOS (Image credit: Windows Central)

Skype Photograph

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Microsoft, much like a bullet, moves in one direction: Forward. Things that can't keep up get retired, and things that can are enabled to ride the wave. It's the strategy of any efficient company, but for the consumers using its products, there can sometimes be casualties.

That's why it was somewhat surprising to see Microsoft hire a new executive with the word "Skype" in his job title. Manik Gupta, the new corporate vice president of Microsoft Teams Consumer, Skype, and GroupMe, has been tapped by the tech giant to lead its consumer apps into the future. The question is: What future is that, exactly?

Windows Central reached out to experts to get an idea of where Skype and Teams Consumer may be headed, given their overlap.

Skype and Microsoft Teams Consumer: Room for both?

Microsoft Teams PC

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

When asked about the trajectory of the two Microsoft apps, IDC Research Director Wayne Kurtzman highlighted a reason Skype may still be in discussions for the foreseeable future.

"Skype was likely heading into the sunset when Covid hit," Kurtzman said. "The Skype logo became more prominent as it was often seen on news broadcasts and streams."

However, public recognition isn't everything. Sometimes an existing service doesn't afford the same opportunities as what a company envisions its successor as being capable of, in which case, the former's recognizability isn't enough to save it.

"The question for Microsoft is do they really want to support two products, or just one. (Hint: Just one)," Kurtzman continued. "There is brand visibility they can and should shift to Teams. User behavior being what it is, Microsoft may need a new slimmed down, really easy to use, Teams conferencing option to replace Skype."

Skype and Microsoft Teams Consumer: Two kings, one kingdom

Skype on Xbox One

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

While it's certainly possible Microsoft could go the economical route and consolidate its efforts to a single app, there is room for it to go the other way and embrace duality, or go even further and revert to letting Skype drive consumer-facing efforts. Moor Insights & Strategy Senior Analyst Anshel Sag weighed in on this perspective.

"Once Microsoft really started to lean into Teams, it seemed like Skype became a 2nd-class citizen," Sag stated. "I could see Skype being revived or revitalized to be more consumer-friendly and possibly the spear of Microsoft's consumer strategy because at this moment Teams for consumers seems very confusing and not that consumer-friendly."

With regards to the appointment of Gupta, what he could bring to the table, and the direction Microsoft could take for consumer endeavors as a whole, Sag provided feedback. "I think Skype and Microsoft's consumer communications strategy needs a revamp because Skype started out as a consumer product that became an enterprise product."

Skype and Microsoft Teams Consumer: The exec factor

Microsoft Teams Note20 On Keyboard

Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

CCS Insight Principal Analyst Angela Ashenden provided her thoughts on Gupta's new role as well, highlighting what it might represent for Microsoft as a whole given the exec's consumer-facing experience from his time at Uber and Google, among other companies. "Gupta's experience in this arena is the company's latest attempt to get to grips with the consumer opportunity — this was also part of the thinking behind its attempted acquisitions of Discord, Pinterest and TikTok: Helping the company to become a credible consumer app player, and bringing another dimension to its innovation strategy," she said.

Ashenden went on to reinforce what Sag and Kurtzman highlighted: Skype's visibility. Of all of Microsoft's apps, few names are as widely recognized as Skype, which many consider to be the home of the video call.

"Microsoft has no formal plans to ditch Skype yet, but much of that will be because Skype still has a considerable user base in the consumer space," Ashenden stated. "We even see it in enterprises too — our latest survey of employees showed that 11% use the consumer-focused Skype app for business purposes. (For context, 16% use Skype for Business and 30% use Teams.)"

With that being said, she also seconded what Kurtzman mentioned in that when it came to long-term goals, supporting one product would likely be Microsoft's plan if it were feasible to drop the straggler. However, she questioned whether the complex, feature-laden Teams would be able to attract consumers in the same way that Skype and in its inherent simplicity did.

Skype and Microsoft Teams Consumer: Who really knows?

At the end of the day, the two entities that know what the future of Skype and Teams Consumer will be are Manik Gupta and Microsoft. But it's fun to speculate nonetheless, especially given the likelihoods of the aforementioned forecasts coming to fruition.

Do you want to see Teams take over as Microsoft's one-stop shop for all things related to consumer communications when the era of Windows 11 fully kicks in and the best Windows 10 apps are replaced? Or would you rather Skype maintain its position as the simple, slim alternative that will stand the test of time by sheer force of its own popularity? Let us know in the comments below.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

40 Comments
  • IMO, Skype for consumers will see a slow decline of the userbase and MS will finally ditch it. Teams for consumers will fail too. The consumer messaging and call/video communication market is already saturated. It's like expecting Chrome OS to become the majority desktop OS and even then Chrome OS sales surged during Covid-19 while Microsoft's consumer messaging products did not. Unless Facebook will go out of business or new technology (e.g. RCS) will suddenly become popular with MS being one of the first companies to adopt it, I can't see MS succeeds in this market.
  • I use Skype now and again as it just works and is simple to use. Teams for consumer I don't have a need for, I don't know anyone who uses consumer version of Teams. For group chat I use discord. RCS is more of a replacement for SMS and to be honest it is not going so well, mobile phone service providers don't seem to be jumping to support it, and if they do, they don't really make it well know. That is why google decided to make it anyone can use it even if their service provider don't support it. My provider don't support RCS and i don't use messages anyway, I use Textra, which I am pretty sure don't support RCS. i hope Skype for consumer do keep going it useful, even if I only use it once in a blue moon these days. Teams can die for all I care, both consumer and enterprise version
  • Going to just one as stated in the article is the smart plan, but it should be through merging these, not encouraging user to shift and phasing out all but 1. If you take away something people are using, they may also just shift to a competing product. Merging them with a seamless integration is the only way to preserve the users. Personally, I think Skype should be the consumer-facing brand, and it should just work with Teams. You should be able to chat with Skype users from Teams and vice versa. Meeting IDs should work across both. Whether MS agrees and sticks with the Skype brand name for consumers is much less important than how the systems work and how well they integrate. Brands are important, but usability is more important. Whichever of those two wins, it should then also work to fold in the GroupMe features. Unlike for the consumer space, where it's a bit of a judgement call between Teams and Skype for branding, Teams is clearly the right brand and product for enterprise use. It's peerless in that space. Truly, nothing else even comes close to Teams, incorporating all the key features of Skype, OneDrive, VoIP telephone stack with advanced voice mail features and transcription + SMS text messaging, all of MS Office with add'l enhancements for sharing and collaboratian, SharePoint, plus the best of Slack and Zoom, all in one tight, easy-to-use package. It's amazing, just that most of those features are useless to consumers.
  • I agree with you, I think the best example of someone else doing the same thing is Facebook. They have FB Messenger, Instagram and Whatsapp. Instead of killing each service, they are trying to embrace all three but interconnecting all of them. They are also adding additional features from one platform to the other to make them more of the same but still give the illusion to the customer that they are in control of the software they are using, in addition to maintaining familiarity. I really think that Microsoft should have just enabled SKYPE users to have "TEAM" features and linking the same e-mail into one account, and let users choose if they want to use SKYPE or TEAMS as their communication app. It makes no sense that I have 1 personal Microsoft Account but the chat services are so broken apart. After all when I log in to Outlook.com, my skype account is the same, therefore I would like to be able to talk to people on SKYPE or TEAMS, and when using the feature MEET NOW, it shouldn't matter if those users are on TEAMS or SKYPE as long as they are signed in and I can ring them. Of course... I'm not trying to talk to any of the technical challenges, but the Privacy Policy and rules for TEAMS / SKYPE etc should basically be all and one and the same to encompass the chat / video / file sharing. Making it simpler for users to choose what applications they are using.
  • You said that much better than I did. 100% agree with you.
  • +1, could not have said it better.
  • perfectly summarised, its like you read everyone's mind...
    the landline-mobile calling feature of skype is a big win for consumers and the ease of use for messaging - voice - video calls - recording - etc...
    teams is perfect and unrivaled in enterprise... the ideal scenario of seamless integration would be to allow multiple logins - create default work or personal for each and then
    - if you select personal skype should load
    - if you select work teams should load
  • I use teams for work and Skype for personal. Honestly - it should stay that way. I want Skype to adopt the backend of teams because it is generally better and doesn't rely on users having to manually to download media to "save it" (so stupid Skype doesn't preserve this information - they could just save the data on onedrive... I also don't like the idea of teams as consumer product.... It just confuses users as teams has so heavily marketed for business during the pandemic and the most hilarious part is the current implementation of teams (preview) in windows 11 beta doesn't allow for "work" users to login. Again. Keep them separate in name - but not in function... If you combined the backend with different names... Integration and cross communication to each "platform" could be flawless... Skype could be used as a brand... Or perhaps rebrand all together with the teams backend... If MS messes this up (which they probably will) - consumers will just get frustrated and move to another OS all together that has unified communications for "all their devices"... Android/Google duo/chat or ios/MACOS imessage/FaceTime.... Microsoft never has had this and needs it to move forward in the consumer space... If they care anymore...
  • Well said. I think this seems to be the consistent theme from most of us here: both Teams and Skype are great for their respective markets with different needs, but then they should work well together.
  • I use Skype for personal use. The ability to just share the meeting URL with anybody (even without a Skype account) and they can launch the meeting in any browser is powerful and simple. They should ditch the whole need for a Skype account. It should just be your Microsoft account. I think Skype can stick around if it simple. Kind of like how there is a Mail app and Outlook. Mail is useful because it is simple and very fast. I could see people using Teams for Consumers for personal use if they use Teams at work. They will be familiar with it. I can see people wanting something simple like Skype if they don't use Teams at work.
  • All true, but I think this can be enhanced by having Skype be able to talk with Teams instead of requiring a special Teams for personal use. Leave Skype as the Consumer product, Teams for Enterprise and anything else that's a Team (school, small business, club, etc.), but make it trivially simple to contact anyone in Skype from Teams and vice versa just by using the registered email address.
  • Hope they just don't shut down skype by saying - The future of skype is in Microsoft Teams. Skype is actually good , I am using it with my friends and it is very nice , it has awesome features like we can call to local landlines and directly to mobile numbers.
  • Facebook has both Whatsapp and Messenger, so r they gonna end one? No ofcourse, Microsoft can also ( This is my opinion)
  • Last time I checked both of them suck. I tried to switch from WhatsApp but sadly they're just not reliable for messaging. They're heavy and take much longer to load. Why can't they just make something light and simple like MSN Messenger was?
  • I agree 100%, + there's something else that bothers me about Skype, it won't let us change our username/handle.
    I use a specific handle for all my chatting apps (Telegram, Instagram, Line, Messenger)
    let's say it's [@]mikebrown But when it comes to Skype, it’s something like live:awesomike2009_1, a very long and difficult username Skype generated automatically based on my e-mail address from a decade ago that I don’t use anymore. So, unless the other person tells me he/she wants to chat with me on Skype, I never share my Skype username with anyone. I simply tell people, “you can find me on Telegram and Instagram [@]mikebrown ;D” simple, and it leads straight to my profile. Now, about Teams for consumers, that’s not a clever idea. The name Teams doesn’t resonate well for family members or friends who just want to have a little talk and have fun, it just reminds us of businesses and all the “busy” stuff. I wouldn’t use it with my friends, but I would use it for university level projects, work etc.
  • Agreed. I like I can use it on multiple devices and the communication is seamless. But my phone almost never rings but I get a missed call, connecting is hit and miss, sending and listening to voice notes is absolutely painful, and I'll have a chat open and not get the message but get the notification and have to leave and reopen the conversation to see the latest messages... Before doing anything else they should just make it work
  • Thinkdan, lightweight is certainly a plus, but Teams is probably the single greatest piece of software ever written in terms of time from launch to providing an epic level of utility and value add for its users. First product to transcend Lotus 123 for that crown. Teams absolutely does not suck. That said, like many great tools for people on the job, it's not really a consumer app.
  • MS needs to consider what they call it and what it does. TEAMS, the business product, allows you to create teams, the marketing team, the engineering team, the personnel team. Teams can share files, calendars, announcements, have meetings, have bulletin board style chat threads. TEAMS personal lets you chat; text, audio or video, but chat. You can create a group chat, but it is a collection of individuals, not a team. There are dozens of apps that let you do this, Skype included. Imagine if TEAMS Personal actually had some of the features of TEAMS. How about if your Scout troop could have a place where you could share the meeting calendar, merit badge resources, have impromptu patrol meetings, post permission forms, and such. What if a youth sports team could have such a 'portal'. What if you, as an individual could belong to a couple of 'TEAMS', your scout troop, your softball team, and be able to overlay the calendars for yourself. Maybe you as a parent could overlay your own calendar, your son's softball calendar and daughter's scout calendar. That's the sort of thing you can do in TEAMS for Business. If MS is going to call it TEAMS (personal) they should make it TEAMS, not SKYPE TNG. Not saying they should call it TEAMS, though, as that has that business connotation, unless they can explain what it is, who it is for, and why it is different than 'chat'.
  • Teams personal can do that already.
  • Do what? Create a TEAM with a team calendar, document library, etc? You can create a Chat with multiple people, but there isn't even a TEAM icon, unless I'm missing something.
  • Of course, there is room! There will always be people who prefer to use either Skype or Teams. So, Microsoft should do what it has promised in the past and that is federation between Skype and Teams. And GroupMe for that matter.
    In short, let people use what they want to use. As long as there is feature parity.
  • Federation between teams and Skype exists for business user. Not sure if it was planned for both. But whether it is migrating Skype users to teams or found consumer federation I could see that working. As long as a teams consumer user cna message a Skype user and vice versa... And group me like you say... Now that might be a winning formula becuase each platform has a some amount of following... Just make them all look the same. Or do like Facebook is doing with messenger and Instagram (and whatsapp)
  • TASWinFan, I have never seen that federation between Skype and Teams work. I have even worked with MS support when this was first announced and they effectively acknowledged that they've not seen it work either. Their conclusion was that it must not be ready yet. Since then, I've only seen those MS claims that they'll work together disappear. THIS should be the priority. Get Teams and Skype to talk to one another, then let Skype serve consumers (but able to chat and meet with Teams users) and vice versa with Teams primarily serving the business market.
  • Back in the 80s and early 90s, we had excel, word, powerpoint etc. Then they moved to Office. Then to Office 365. We are talking about two different business models. Originally, you paid $100 and got Word 5, which you could use forever. I have many of those licenses on my shelves. Now, you pay $150 a year to use Office 365. Can MSFT distribute a consumer app like Teams for free? Build a large global ecosystem. Then charge a nominal annual subscription with more options.
  • I use 365 for work, and LibreOffice at home. I find LibreOffice to be excellent, and haven't had any compatibility issues, and it's totally free. tbh, I wish we used it at work, licences are a pita.
  • The reason you do not use LibreOffice is because of compliance issues. If something goes wrong and the general counsel of the company must reply to a records production subpoena, Office 365 maintains a good history of all its records. Your files in 365 are owned by the company and thus they need to be able to produce those files if they are involved in a legal dispute. I doubt LibreOffice has the capability to comply with various legal requirements. MSFT builds Enterprise software that has far more regulatory compliance requirements than consumer software. Part of the reason AWS and MSFT are fierce competitors in the could wars is because they are the only two that can comply with US Federal Government requirements to provide top-secret cloud networks. A company like KO or GM, they are always dealing with legal disputes around the globe, and Office 365 must provide the ability to conform to legal requirements around the globe. Consume apps can be profitable, but not like enterprise-level software.
  • CrazyFrogz, I have clients are associates who use LibreOffice, so that means I need to support it. It's not remotely on par with MS Office. It only has a small fraction of the features, it has an old clumsy UI, and while it claims to export to DOC and DOCX, it doesn't do it well. We always have to take LibreOffice exports, open them in Word, then manually address formatting problems, then resave as a DOCX to get a true usable DOCX. If the price is the factor, the free versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint available online are limited compared to the paid versions, but still have about all the features in LibreOffice. Free, more compatible, less space on your drive, less resources (but does require an Internet connection).
  • ddn123, they do make Teams available for free for consumer use today, just like Skype. It's just a more limited version of Teams. To use your Office 365 example, it's a bit like the free versions of Word or Excel Online (maybe a little bit more limited than those) -- it does the chat and video support and provides some of the light collaboration features, but doesn't have everything you get with the paid Microsoft 365 subscription. I think it's a mistake to try to tear Skype users away from Skype and push them to Teams (and I say that as one of the biggest fans of Teams around). Instead, they should support communication integration between Teams and Skype. By the way, the paid Office 365 for personal use is a great deal if you're in a family -- buy 1 subscription for $99 (often available at a discount) and it covers 6 people, each with their own installable software licenses and OneDrive storage.
  • I just don’t understand their thinking with consumer Teams, I can’t see it going any way except failure. I use Teams for work and like it but it is never going to gain consumer traction.
    Investing in Skype is their best bet but in my experience even that won’t get anywhere, all my friends and family are happy using mobile apps (ie WhatsApp and FaceTime) for video calling. Skype is still perceived as PC video calling but who does that to friends and family any more? I’d guess not many because people are sat on their phones in an evening and not their PCs.
    Obviously the replies could disagree with me but this is my experience in the UK.
  • I think you're right, but MS doesn't own a mobile app, so they either need to acquire one or work with what they have. Skype is the closest they have on the consumer side, closer than Teams anyway. I LOVE Teams for work use, but like you said, it just doesn't make a lot of sense as a consumer app. I'll use it if MS pushes it, but I'd prefer they invest in making Skype better on the consumer side, more mobile friendly (so it can compete on phones too), and then integrate the back-end with Teams so the two can talk to either other.
  • They do have a consumer app. It's called GroupMe. Actually wasn't bad when I used it. Back when some folks didn't have smartphones, you could add people with just SMS into a group, and you could all keep in touch. It's still out there, just not well marketed, a hallmark of MS.
  • IMO the problem is that Skype is unreliable and that teams get (rightly) confused with work. Why can't they just pull a snip and sketch again and put the Skype logo all over the teams consumer app bringing the best functions from Skype to the teams app and done? I mean... Can it be that hard. It's just kind of that thing where they just have to decide what they will push and then go all in and they can make it work with their infinite resources. They just need to do like they did with Xbox and go all in on whatever they choose to do and they will get results.
  • I don't get the Skype unreliable thing. It has worked fine for me for what I use it for. Have had numerous extended family Christmases over it, participated in a lot of hour long multi-person video podcasts, used for text with those that use it. Windows Weekly was done via Skype for decades, and while complaining about it, it always worked. Well before these other 'chat' apps Skype could handle, text, voice and video cross platform. Yea, Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Wasn't great sometimes, but we were using 3G, not 4 and 5. Wasn't always flashy but it worked and was/is as broadly compatible as SMS.
  • “The future of Skype”? Skype has no future. Because it is an MS consumer product.
  • That's true, just like Zune, Groove Music and soon Microsoft Movies... Nobody younger than 45 years old uses Skype and no one is even aware Teams has a consumer version... Just look around, WhatsApp, Messenger and Snapchat are all that most young people use... Then there's imessage/facetime for those with Apple products...
  • … and Xbox and Halo and the entire Surface line and Wolfenstein and keyboards and Skyrim and mice and Fallout and Windows (admittedly used by enterprise too) and headsets and game controllers and earbuds and all the other consumer products that Microsoft owns, which are dominant in their respective areas. Yeah, MS fails at everything consumer.
  • Thay would take everything is good with all the platforms add it to one and make a all in one solution. They should also add some community functions from discord/ create there on version and integrate Xbox to it and it could be a discord version for Xbox users.
  • Skype is better or consumers
  • MS products are generally to complicated for the consumer market....meant for business power users. Unfortunately business users are becoming technically dumber by the day....so they opt for the less capable consumer products, that they use in their everyday life. MS only hope is Azure..... they will lose all markets except expert users who have no choice but to use their products, to do what they need todo ....... everyone else will use Google, Facebook, dropbox......ect. ie OneDrive is now awesome technically, but most of the features are useless, because no-one else uses it, and the initial releases were terrible.
  • Can they just decide! Microsoft don't know what to offer consumers. However, they have abandoned most of the consumer space so it actually matters very little.