Skip to main content

Microsoft swaps Skype over to Electron on Windows 10

Skype on Windows 10
Skype on Windows 10 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Skype version 8.61 (Windows 10 version 15) is now generally available.
  • The new Skype runs on Electron rather than React Native.
  • The new Skype has some new features but might use more system resources.

Microsoft rolled out an update to Skype on Windows 10 today (via Neowin). The update brings Skype to version 8.61 (Windows 10 Version 15) and includes several new features.

The latest version of Skype on Windows 10 supports up to nine people in a video call, background replacement, and several other improvements. While some will be happy with the change, others will be frustrated because the latest version of Skype for Windows 10 is an Electron app. Electron apps often take up more RAM and system resources than React Native counterparts, such as the previous version of Skype. Part of the reason Skype moved to Electron is because Microsoft is combining Skype for Windows 10 and Skype for Desktop. The move allows them to be updated together.

Microsoft updated an answers post (opens in new tab) today that announces the rollout of Skype 8.61. The post also links to a Skype FAQ page (opens in new tab) that breaks down the app's new features. Here's what's new in Skype version 8.61:

  • Updated close options so you can quit Skype or stop it from starting automatically
  • Improved Tray icon, informing you about new messages and presence status
  • Share files directly from your File Explorer
  • 9 videos in a video call
  • Background Replacement
  • Moderated Chats
  • Meet Now Improvements
  • Improved Call Controls

Insiders first saw this change in March, but the new version is now rolling out to everyone. Skype's move from React Native to Electron is the opposite of what the Xbox team is doing. In contrast to Skype's move, Microsoft's Xbox app recently switched from Electron to React Native, which resulted in better performance and a smaller download size. It's unclear if Skype's switch in the opposite direction will yield worse performance, but it's worth noting the opposing directions.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

17 Comments
  • There must be a reason for the change. I can't imagine they'd switch a platform with worse performance if there wasn't some other benefit for the switch.
  • I am not really sure do they have performance requirement when delivering it...
  • It's easier to maintain basically the same version for every platform.
  • Microsoft is just s**t. Full stop.
  • I'm assuming this is the old x86 client, versus the UWP app from the store? Or this is the one from the store?
  • Win32 app is being updated and they have discontinued the UWP version since January.
  • No, they haven't.
  • Even if I set the app to not start at Windows login, it always does AND does it full screen, the previous version didn't have this problem
  • One BIG difference is the new version can be minimized to the system tray. The previous version always showed in the taskbar. Also, this article didn't mention this: "Starting in June 2020, Skype for Windows 10 and Skype for Desktop are becoming one so we can provide a consistent experience." React Native has limitations that prevented Microsoft from implementing some of the Desktop version features into the Windows 10 version. Electron does not have these limitations.
  • Thank you for the information!
  • That's a good point. I've added a note.
  • Very helpful. Thanks. Makes more sense now.
  • Long live UWP!
  • Couldn't find "background replacement" (in Settings) as mentioned in the article. Ah it's inside the video portion of the app.
  • I think this is not just move to Electron, it's now just a regular desktop (classic) app, published to the store. The most disappointing thing about it is that it now doesn't support background tasks, so it's not able to receive push notifications when the app is not launched. Essentially, they switched from UWP background tasks to "always running" approach, when even if the app UI and taskbar icon is not shown, the app is still running, sitting in the tray and consuming CPU and memory. If you choose quit skype in tray, it will not receive notifications anymore. In contrast, UWP apps are suspended when the UI is not foreground, and can be unloaded from memory. I'm wondering how Skype will now be working on portable devices like Surface, where battery life matters. Even more interesting how it will work on ARM devices, where Connected Standby is active.
  • As far as i know you can use the background refresh also from Win32.
  • time to ditch skype, I used it only because of push notifications with no need to run the app