Microsoft is updating its Skype app for Windows 10 with a new design and more

Ever since Windows 10 launched, the universal Skype app that comes preinstalled on all Windows 10 PCs has been more than terrible. It looked unfinished, slow, and was missing lots of features. It did improve a bit over time, but it never managed to lose that "unfinished" appearance that made the overall experience feel rough.

Starting with the next Windows 10 update, Microsoft is changing things up a bit by replacing its old universal Skype app with a new one. (opens in new tab) The new app has actually been available for users running Windows 7, Windows 8, and older releases of Windows 10 for a while now. It's built on React Native instead of XAML, but is still a true UWP app (opens in new tab) in that it can still run across multiple different versions of Windows 10, including Xbox, HoloLens, and even the rumoured Andromeda device.

The new Skype app uses the same design found on Android and iOS, which unfortunately means it's not really following any Fluent Design guidelines. However, given how poor the old Skype UWP app was, this design is a huge improvement, so much so that I'm okay with the Skype app not following Fluent Design at all for the time being.

Regarding performance, the new Skype app feels fast. It does take a second or two longer to boot up, but once its running it appears to be much faster than the old app. It also appears to be better equipped, with more options in settings, especially surrounding hardware. The new app also has full My People integration, which is nice to see.

It's not all good news, however. SMS Relay, a feature popular among Windows Phone users, is no longer available. Microsoft is killing this feature as there aren't many people using it, Windows 10 Mobile is dead, and it wasn't available on Android to begin with. Instead, Android users will be able to send SMS messages via the Your Phone app when it releases later this year.

The other "issue" with the new app is that it uses more resources than the old one. The new app is al little heavier it seems, meaning it uses more RAM when it use and also drains battery a bit more. Microsoft does promise to release updates more frequently to the new Skype app however, meaning this might improve over time.

How to get the new Windows 10 Skype app without joining the Insider Program

So far, I'm really loving the new Skype app for Windows 10. It's a huge improvement over the old UWP app, and finally gives Skype a good impression for those using the built in Skype app on Windows. This should've been the level of quality the original app shipped with back in 2016. The app is currently in testing with Insiders, and will come preloaded on all Windows 10 PCs starting with Redstone 5 coming later this year, but users can opt-in to the Skype Preview program to get the app today.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • Just a dumb question:
    Is there something like a downside on building on Reactive Native instead of XAML? And this Facebook Reactive Native, has some spying on the user or no? Just asking, really, i don't know nothing about those things.
  • As said, it does. It's not native, despite it's name. And as mentioned in the article the new version uses more resources and doesn't support fluent design.
    They may as well follow Facebook's example and rip the bloated Android or iOS app, roll it into some OSmeta tech and shove it directly into Win10. If anything, that screams dedication.
    As for the spying part, I'd personally say no, that would be too much. But if news came out tomorrow proving me wrong, I wouldn't be suprised not even one bit.
  • Yeah, WCentral's understanding of UWP is moronic > but is still a true UWP app in that it can still run across multiple different versions of Windows 10, including Xbox, HoloLens, and even the rumoured Andromeda device. Using that definition, any web application is a UWP app, is it runs on all those platforms. :-( WCentral's insistence to push MS' marketing BS, rather than explaining how things actually work, is pathetic. You're right. It's not native. It doesn't support fluent design. It doesn't support continuum. It's not an UWP app.
  • It does support continuum. You have no idea what you're talking about. Apps do not require Fluent Design to be UWP. Apps don't even have to work across different versions of Windows 10 to be UWP. A UWP app is an app that uses Windows 10 UWP APIs, which this new Skype app does. It also runs across the different versions of Windows 10. Xbox, HoloLens, Andromeda, IoT, and more. This is as true a UWP you can get. React Native is one of many languages supported by UWP. UWP apps are not exclusive to XAML. Also, it's worth noting that apps written with React Native can also feature Fluent Design. Please, do some research before commenting.
  • Since there's no clear definition of what's a UWP app, you're kinda right. But that's not really what we should be aiming for. You can take a full Win32 app in that case, make it use a live tile (WinRT API), and proclaim it as a UWP app. Technically - yes. But realistically - no. There's basically a "slider" of how much an app is UWP based upon how much UWP stuff it uses. The new Skype app uses a lot of UWP, but it just doesn't go all the way and uses React instead of XAML. Beats the hell outta me why MS would forgo their own in-house built technology that is built to be the best representation of their own system and capabilities, and go with Facebook's solution which doesn't tie into anything, but hey that's on them if they think it's better. You are right about continuum as it's not tied to XAML, but I don't think you can use actual Fluent in React. You can kinda simulate it, but why go such lengths if you can have it in XAML with literally a few clicks, or even by default for some controls.
    At the end, I would understand if for example Facebook was building Messenger for W10 and decided to use React because it's their thing and they have experience with it, but Microsoft's own teams not using their own tools, for which they can have in-house consulting and help for free if needed, and not showcasing what their own tools can achieve - that seems really weird.
  • @Ma Rio
    Technically, yes, it's a slider. That's just not a useful way to look at it from a consumer's point of view. It's one of three things: - Win32 app (uses Win32 exclusively)
    - UWP app (uses UWP exclusively)
    - Hybrid (uses both APIs) Right now this distinction isn't very important, because all version of Windows run all of the above. It was important up until the demise of W10M, because only pure UWP apps had the potential to run on a phone. This will become important again however, when/if MS releases another version of Windows without Win32 (allegedly Polaris). Only UWP apps will run on that. As a result of the confusion WCentral has caused by using their sloppy definition of UWP, we now lack a simple way of explaining why some "UWP" apps will work on a Win32-less version of Windows and some will not. Anyway, as far as I know React uses the underlying system's native UI renderer, so while you can't declare the UI using XAML, what you get at runtime is the same thing. That's pretty much the extent of my knowledge on React, so Zac is right, I know almost nothing about React. That just wasn't the issue for me. My problem with the article is that it provided even more bogus reasoning for why we should think this is a real UWP app. If Skype is a real UWP app, then it's not that for the reasons mentioned in the article.
  • Wow, we agree. For an app to be an UWP app, it must use the UWP API... exclusively! Does this describe the Skype app? If so, I'll concede your point. That's just not what you said above (in the article). Above you claimed it was an UWP app because it ran on Xbox, Hololens, etc... That is nonsense. Any website would fit that definition. Based on previous experience, it's hard to believe any claim made by WCentral in regard to what is or is not an UWP app. You've consistently got it wrong since you started writing about UWP. Based on the reasoning provided, there was no reason to believe the reporting was correct, but maybe this is the one time you actually got it right.
  • If this app installs and run or deploys to Xbox and Core IoT platforms I'd call it UWP irrelevant of whether it's internally effectively a web wrapper using platform extensions (notifications etc.). Anything else is not actually UWP or hasn't been built for all platforms. Running on Xbox is generally a good indicator of an app being UWP given the limitations of that platform. The old benchmark was running on W10M. Most challenged current target would be Core IoT.
  • @realwarder
    Yes, that is a good indicator. I'm just less interested in indicators than I am in a definition that is simple and useful for consumers, which is what I'm trying to get WCentral to think more about. As a definition, the ability to run on multiple devices and/or form factors isn't useful, because there will always be UWP apps that run only on one. If the web-wrapper uses platform extensions to interface with the UWP API, and doesn't interface with any other proprietery OS APIs, then I'd agree. That could count as an UWP app. At some point, MS will reintroduce an UWP-only platform (polaris?). Then, the definition and understanding of what is and what isn't a UWP app will become relevant again, because it will define what software can run on which hardware. The web-wrapper + extensions app would run on an UWP-only platform, which is why calling it an UWP app seems fine to me too. Half of the things WCentral calls UWP wouldn't.
  • I am always right when I talk about UWP, because it's my job to get it right. For the record, the new Skype app uses 100% UWP APIs. It is a UWP in its truest form. Again, a UWP can be written in many languages, not just XAML. A UWP doesn't have to feature Fluent Design. A UWP doesn't have to run across different devices. It just needs to use UWP APIs. If an app can run across desktop, Xbox, HoloLens, IoT, etc. then it already is a true UWP app. Our mentioning of this is not an accident, it's proof of our claim. A hybrid UWP app only runs on desktop. A true UWP app runs on everything. Notice how we call Skype a "true UWP" app in the article. A UWP app is an app that uses UWP APIs, whether that be just a couple, or 90% of them. A "true UWP" app is an app built entirely on UWP APIs exclusively, which the new Skype UWP app is. You cannot call Microsoft's own definition of UWP "BS" because you don't agree with it. Microsoft is the creator of UWP, they decide what counts as a UWP. This Skype app is a true UWP. We always mention whether an app we're talking about is a true UWP or not. Always have, always will. Please stop trying to undermine the hard work we put in here at Windows Central. We don't just post things we believe in without any research. Again, it is our jobs to be right about this stuff. We don't want to be spreading misinformation. Skype is a UWP app. End of conversation.
  • @Zak
    Seriously? You're right because it's your job to get it right? How pathetic is that? Again, and for the last time, yes, Skype may actually be a real UWP app. That's just irrelevant to this topic. I'm asking for WHAT REASONS you think it's correct to claim that Skype is an UWP app, and that is where you screw up. IMHO we should have ended the Skype conversation long ago. You're the one that keeps going back to that, likely because it's the only solid leg you've got to stand on. Skype isn't the issue. To set the record straight: Your previous understanding of UWP was: "if it's in the store it's a UWP app". Apparently you've since changed your minds, because in the above article that definition became "if it runs on more than one device it's an UWP app". In the comments you corrected yourself again and now claim: "if it uses the UWP API then it's a UWP app". The last definition is by far the best (though still not great). If it's your job to be right, then none of you guys are doing it well, because your previous definitions were just plain wrong (I don't mean to single you out individually. It's a WCentral problem). If you guys hadn't muddied the waters, there also wouldn't be a need for the "true UWP app" terminology, which most definitely wasn't always in use, and which MS doesn't use either. So what are you doing? Possibly inventing your own definition and terminology because you don't agree with MS! ;-) It's true that MS uses an alternative definition, but that doesn't mean it's not BS. Companies make up their own BS definitions all the time. It's called marketing! MS knows their own definition is BS. If you guys were technically competent you would know too, just like pretty much everybody here with a software engineering background has been telling you for ages. An important part of being a journalist is keeping the entities you report on honest! That means separating the marketing chaff from the technical wheat. If you did that you would be calling MS definition BS as well. MS' definition exists as a means to artificially inflate the number of apps in the store which they can count as UWP apps. Its purpose is to make UWP look more successful than it is. While MS's definition of what constitutes an UWP app is helpful for MS, it's the opposite of helpful for consumers who strive to understand what UWP is and how it works. Unfortunately, WCentral has contributed to this confusion. That's what I'm I'm not trying to correct. I'm not trying to undermine WCentral. I'm trying to make WCentral better!
  • If you're going to catch such a chapped b00tyhole over a comment disagreeing with your interpretation of what's a very loose definition of something, my advice to you is to either A: stop reading comments; or B: Get off the internet, since it's 2018 and you seem to be new to the concept of a comments section.
  • You've understood absolutely nothing. This isn't about my interpretation of a loose definition. It's about marketing vs technical reality, which is entirely independent of definitions. The point of definitions, in this case, is only to make it easier to differ between the two. Ultimately, it's about consumers gaining a working understand of technology. I can't make you intelligent enough to understand that. I can only hope that Zak is.
  • Your understanding of React Native is.... well... I'm not going to say "moronic"... but has room for improvement React Native apps are not the same as web apps. React Native apps are compiled to true native apps. The JSX you write in React native is compiled to the native language of the platform it targets (objective c or swift on iOS and Java on android and XAML for UWP on windows). This is all great news. I had no idea until today that there was a React Native plugin for windows which is being actively developed by Microsoft.
  • @three_thoughts
    No, you're right. My understanding of React Native is moronic. Similar to almost every other reader's understanding of it. That's just not relevant, because I wasn't making any assertions about React Native at all. My post was in response to the reasoning given as to why we should believe this is a true/pure UWP app. Does React Native guarantee that nothing beyond the UWP API's are being used? I don't know. If it does, then that is the reason this is a true/pure UWP app. That's just not the reason that was given. That is what I was objecting to, but I could have articulated that better. I just didn't put in the effort because I've almost given up on WCentral ever understanding what a real UWP app is and why so many of the apps they slap that label on aren't.
  • It actually is native since React Native by definition uses the native render to render the app windows etc so the performance should be at a native level.
  • Well, the upside is that more of their applications are written in HTML, CSS, and JS, which makes everything more maintainable for MS. Here is where I could get raked over the coals by some web developers and possibly Zac: the performance will not be as good as a "real" app. Despite what Zac has stated in this article I fully expect the performance to tank long-term. Obviously performance will depend on each situation, but to see examples of similar react-native applications see Discord and Microsoft Teams. The latter in particular has atrocious performance the longer the app is open. As for spying on the user, no, I wouldn't be concerned.
  • At least so far, it's better than Electron (Slack) on ARM. Both are a bit slow on the initial launch, but when using it the new Skype apps feels great and is even quicker than the last version. But yeah, will have to see long term how it progresses.
  • Woops, it appears that I made a mistake. Discord and MS Teams are written using the Electron platform/framework (on the desktop, which is the poor experience that I was referring to) so please disregard that bit.
  • Discord is made using both ReactJS and Electron. The two are not mutually exclusive.
    I think the reasoning behind Microsoft's devs choice of React is simply because they can write the app using React and target basically any platform (desktop, mobile, etc) using one and the same code base (at least for the view).
  • Slower, consume more resources, doesn't have access to all windows api and features
  • Now that SMS relay is gone, I hope that MS will not release this new Skype (which, thankfully is much better than the previous version) in RS5 without a properly developed Your Phone application. But it's almost July, and they still haven't pushed it out for insiders yet. Fingers crossed.
  • all my bots now have there images😁
    that's all I wanted fixed. But I will take this too.
  • Pulse is an excellent app that will get you there now. Download th Android version, pay the reasonable fee (well worth it), and get the deskyop client. Highly recommended!
  • Is there a reason they don't /can't make an excellent Skype uwp app? Groove became awesome and had fluent.
  • The problem is the Skype team. I'm sorry for calling them out as I am sure they are all great people, but ever since the terrible Windows Phone 8 Skype application the quality just hasn't been very good.
  • I agree with you, it's completely the team-that-builds-the-app's fault. Except for the desktop Win32 app made years ago, they haven't built one good Skype app. I'd literally be ashamed to ask for salary if I was on that team. Looking at all these other PERFECT 3rd party UWP apps in the Store, which not only work and perform great, but also look fabulous, I do not understand why does MS even pay them.
  • General incompetence when it comes to managing Skype.
  • All in time for Andromeda, I guess ;-)
  • I get that a React app allows for easy cross platform development, but isn't that what MS bought Xamarin for? As a developer it does not give me much confidence in either UWP or Xamarin if MS is not even using them. Whatever happened to eat your own dogfood?
  • Good point, I think we are now at the stage where Microsoft has to support what the masses are using rather than what they want us to use. If they can showcase good support for React then potentially other apps will get ported to Windows 10.
  • The Xamarin and UWP platforms both create native apps using the .NET Framework. React Native leverages JavaScript, the language which had its start in browsers and can now run independently thanks to node.js, and can integrate with native components. If your development team doesn't have .NET experience but does know JavaScript very well (or has existing JS libraries and logic that can be reused to save time to market), then React becomes a great option to expand your application's reach. Newer JavaScript standards have significantly closed the gap in features as well, providing location APIs, notification APIs, and background service workers to light up features only previously available to native applications. It's all about selecting the right tool for the job.
  • It's Nadella's MS now. Let devs use what gets the job done for themselves instead of dictating and forcing unhappy devs.
  • New version also available on RS4, you just need to join Skype Preview from within the app; the store then downloads the new version. Skype version, App version
  • Skype is dead
  • Skype has 350M active monthly users. Define "dead". Or you know what? Don't. Your comments here are just vague statements without data and is more reflective of anti-fanboyism than someone wanting to have a real discussion.
  • your comment is dead
  • So with SMS relay now gone from Skype, Microsoft should allow the actual "Messaging" app to do SMS Relay once again. You know, for all 3 of us still using Lumia 950's.
  • I was thinking that they were converting Messaging to Your Phone but I guess we will have to wait and see what happens when they release it. But yeah, would have been nice for them to not try and move people to Skype. That was a blunder.
  • what's the point, they're behind now by 3 years since the initial release of sms relay also since android messages for web launched they are the last kid on the race, and yet again, trying to reboot that with a new app, ridiculous.
  • I'm sure SMS Relay usage was low because the performance was crap, not that people didn't want to use it. I tried it on/off an messages were delayed or constantly hung up. Since Cortana can display my texts in the notification center and I can respond, I completely stopped trying to use the SMS Relay.
  • "It's not all good news, however." It rarely is with Skype. How that team has survived a clean out and hasn't been shown the door is a complete mystery.
  • Just give us back the old version before Microsoft account was needed.
  • I guess the Skype team is going for the record for most reboots in a decade. Yikes. I also don't get why they wouldn't be using their own programming tools. Skype has been a part of Microsoft for over 7 years now and they seem less integrated with Microsoft now then they were then. Makes no sense to me. That's a huge bummer about the death of SMS Relay. I use it daily on my HP Elite x3 (even though it is buggy and unreliable). I hope I can find away to avoid this new Skype and cling on to the old one as long as possible.
  • Another one? 😶 jeez... does anyone know if it's using the moronic presence controls or the actual granular presence controls found in the Win32 desktop application? In regards to SMS relay, it was absolutely garbage. They killed something that was ace and worked really well - Messaging everywhere. Personally I don't usually advocate for lay offs but it's high time the Skype team was completely overhauled and bring back proper granular presence controls. What is occuring right now is an absolute farce.
  • Without SMS I have no use for Skype at all. Most of my contacts use other instant messenger programs and I was only using Skype because it allowed me to send and receive my SMS on my desktop. Now that I have no choice but to use my phone for that again, I'll just move to Telegram or another app instead.
  • Awesome news! Now they need to show other devs how it's done. Most devs aren't going to start using UWP and Xamarin but most already have React websites or React Native mobile apps that they can leverage. MS just need to push this solution to devs.
  • I have to say I'm surprised if it's any good. Teams is made on this stuff and it's so slow and buggy it's shocking, especially given how refined the iOS versions are. Edit: Ok, so Teams is made from Electron, so maybe this will be faster...
  • If I only knew people who actually use Skype. More than half my contacts apparently HAVE it, since they do show up as Skype contacts. But nobody actually uses it. Everyone I know uses SMS for instant messaging, and IF they do any video calls, it's the iPhone users and, of course, they use FT.
  • What bothers me about MS is that they have 350M active monthly users for Skype and it has taken them almost two years to "fix" Skype UWP for Windows.
  • I dont get it. Why not just use Xamarin geniuses.
  • Xamarin isn't very good for cross-platform UX development, or wasn't the last time I used. It is still a decent platform if you have a good amount of logic in you app. We have had at least one Xamarin project going on constantly for the last 3 years in our company.
  • Ugh. I was using the SMS Relay feature. That was pretty much the only reason I had Skype on my PC and phone.
  • Still junk. So many other alternatives have grown to be miles better for years now, in both audio and video calling.
  • Will this new Skype app work on W10M?
  • so is it just me, or is this version the worst yet? in particular that the minimum width is essentially twice as wide as it need to be- it should be collapsible to the width of the size panel
  • "Microsoft is killing this feature as there aren't many people using it, Windows 10 Mobile is dead,"
    Okay, so how does Microsoft, the Skype and UWP relate to Andromeda then. Killing off a feature before releasing a new hardware for it does not seem to make sense to me. But maybe it is just another well thought through decision.