Skype finally fixes message syncing across devices, updates Modern app for 8.1

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 (opens in new tab), 2 (opens in new tab)

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Realy? Like i said yesterday: You guys in the US are one day behind Europe.
    Right, For everyone that May think i want to trol: Only yesterday i mentioned that the Skype update was 'inbound' (pardon My English, i AM Dutch) because we in Europe allready did. Like the updates For Xbox Music and Xbox Music. No trolling intentions, just letting you know An update is to be expected in the US. Why are we First? I don't know. Most of the time you are First or at the same time as Europe.
  • I believe they're called "time zones".
  • Haha
  • You also have to take into account the time it takes to research the information about what the updates contain and then write the articles. I'm in Canada and I also got the updates for skype and music and video a day before the articles were published on WPcentral.
  • But like a good Northern American, you aren't pretentious. Unlike, apparently, the DUTCH.
  • Again. Most of the time we in Europe receive the updates later or at the same time as the US. For the Xbox (blabla) and Skype we received It earlier. Thats all. I understand It when WPcentral has to check. But, when a update is in the store for download there is not much to take in to research. It's just there.
  • Well... Knowing there is an update isn't the whole story. WPcentral's job isn't to tell you when the update is available (you already have the notification from the store for that), it's to tell you what the update contains. And for that there is some research needed, unless all the info you want is what's written on the app's description page. But if that's the case, then I guess you don't need WPcentral...
  • Your right, that's why i simply adressed the update yesterday. Skype is inbound. I love updates and check the store several times a day. Most of them are Dutch apps. Notification on the tile doesn't work on my Surface 2. And i love to read the comments from WPCentral, one of My favoriet apps.
  • You know the Dutch, Fool?
  • Finally, a comment with the right amount of sass. Bravo, my good sir, bravo.
  • Why would they want to test an update on Americans when we have silly cheeseheads like you?
  • About time.
  • Does anyone use the modern Skype? More often than not, I use the desktop version, but that could change soon.
  • Only on Surface 2, because no choice. But on the PC, I still use the desktop version, given the choice.
  • Extremely useful reply. Who'd not use desktop version in desktop PC?
  • I actually don't use the desktop version and I'm on the desktop.
  • Well, depends on how you use the PC. If you're in the Modern UI all day, I can see the Modern app being better. Also, having the Modern version snapped is pretty neat. I use Word, Ps Elements and Chrome all day, so I'm 'stuck' in desktop.
  • Daniel uses chrome?? Blasphemy I tell you. Blasphemy!
  • I use it for one reason: plugins. I needs 'em. If IE had them, I'd switch in a jiffy. But I won't realign my work habit for Microsoft loyalty, I'd rather MS make a better product.
  • is the only browser that addons actually work. its like apps on ios they are far better than android or wp =p actually in the case of addons, IE lags very far behind. 
  • They work even better in Firefox.
  • Which plugins do you use?
  • Since you're so close with MS can you ask them why they keep IE so blank? It could really use some more features, like speed dials, decent password manager, grouping tabs and the plugins you are talking about. I just don't get it. Sometimes I think they just WANT to stay behind.
  • I don't talk to the IE team, so probably can't help there. MS is a big company ;)
  • Didn't they move Joe Bielfore to the IE team?
  • What did Mr. Magoo retire? Ageism?
  • It would be nice if desktop apps were allowed to "talk" to metro apps. There are a couple of plugins I used back in the day in Chrome that I can sort of use now with the metro version of IE since you can Share with other apps (like Share to QR code and stuff) (I also used plugins for emails and facebook but now the apps do the job just fine). It would be nice if they added Share to in IE on the desktop also. It could bring a couple more people to IE and convince desktop users to start using Win8 apps more.
  • You should realign your work habits for privacy. Google is the worst privacy violator ever known to man.
  • Dan, please ditch the 'C' word and let's party with IE 11. I wish can stop hating Google:-)
  • IE represents all that's wrong with MS, Chrome represents all that's decent in Google.
  • Except for people who need special plugins, IE 11 is better than Chrome in many of ways. Its faster, it has a cleaner interface, optimized for touch, doesnt track your search history... The list goes on. It might be the best for some specific job requirements but it's definitely not the worst as you try to portray it be be.
  • It's faster? Idk about that never had IE loading faster than chrome or vice versa
    Cleaner interface? You can make your own theme and customize chrome the way you like it to be
    Optimized for touch? Everything is optimized for touch why do you think android tablets exist?
    Btw ever heard of incognito browsing? That way no website can ever track you and every browser has it anyway
    And I'm not saying it's bad it's just average browser it may compete with opera maxthon and other browser but not with Firefox or chrome.
  • Extremely useful reply. 
    Extremely assholish sarcasm.
    Who'd not use desktop version in desktop PC?
    Perhaps somone with a hybrid like the Surface 2 Pro. 
  • Yeah, that's a good example. On the Surface Pro 2, I could see using Modern more, due to the hybrid nature of that device. 
  • Thats how I do it. Skype Desktop on PC and Metro app on Surface Pro 2.
  • My girlfriend and father both use the Modern Skype over the desktop one. They like that it's simple to use and goes straight to a full screen experience which is what they usually want when video calling. Girlfriend also finds it preferable to Snap Skype so that the conversation is always visible when doing other things. That said, I personally definitely still use the desktop client when on my PC, just because that's what I'm used to. I could probably make the switch soon with some of the newer changes except that I still find drag and dropping files etc to send over Skype far easier than anything the modern client offers!
  • I'm always on Skype (Metro), at least 18 out of 24 hours everyday (probably more) and I never experience any troubles. I'm actually amazed at that.
  • I think it just depends on how you use it. I sometimes have 8 chat windows open, with many group calls, etc. In that case, the Modern app is...more cumbersome to use. At least the last time I checked. I think for casual use, it's probably fine.
  • Yeah, I'm usually on one call but for a very long time and the picture quality and connection is actually pretty good for me.
  • I *wish* I could use Skype like that, it' d be a different experience.
  • Also, in multi person video conferencing I've noticed multiple times that video of person on modern Skype does not show up. It's a big annoyance for us asking them to rejoin via desktop Skype.
  • I use the Metro version both on my Surface 2 and Vaio Duo 13 most of the time except when I want to share my screen which obviously is not present at the Metro version. I don't know if it me alone, but I find it more pleasant to use the Metro version than the OG desktop version.
  • Metro is easier and more elegeant, no question.  That's what MS designed metro to be.  What it isn't is flexible, powerful, or full-featured. When metro can be those things, too, then MS will finally have something.
  • I use the desktop on my PC because to my knowledge I can't share my screen in the modern app. Pretty much the only reason though. I just wish like several people stated already that you answer one device the rest hush up. And with Skype on my l920 it still heats up to where I only get like 3 mins of use till my phone shuts down. My surface rt though is good for quick sessions when I'm moving around the house.
  • Which reminds me of what I thought about before, if they could implement a way for you to switch devices mid video chat without hanging up that would be huge!
  • *tentatively raises hand* I guess I'm in the minority for preferring the Modern version on my desktop. It opens quicker on my PC, which is quite enough for me.
  • I use the desktop version. I can't find a way to remove/block contacts in modern, and until it gets similar features, I will continue to use the desktop version.
  • Skype need to be MS's Facetime/imessage, google fumbled hangouts with andoid
  • That's their goal, I imagine, but first they have to literally change the whole backend network structure of how Skype was set up. Nothing trivial. Mind you, MS didn't develop Skype from the ground up to be a mobile messaging network. So there's a lot of careful work to be done to improve things while not breaking current functionality. 
  • Yeah hopefully once the infrastructure changes are done and the core stuff like message sync, notifications, and multi-device awareness are completed, they will move on to make Skype everything FaceTime, iMessage, WhatsApp, BBM, etc. are in one complete communication app.  Will be glorious.
  • Exactly my thoughts. I'm actually hoping that they do announce Skype's complete integration with the WP 8.1, with no app for it, pretty much like Facetime. If they already stated that they are not going that way, I've missed that.
  • I don't think its a good idea to have it integrated with the OS because it will be hard to update it. Then you would need to update the OS to update Skype.
    I think that is the reason why the Music + Videos app is getting split into separate apps and making a Bing Podcast App to allow for easy updating.
  • Personally I think *all* apps should be split out. Anything that is not intrinsically linked with the core of the phone. Means the operators and OEMs can't interfere as much.
  • Not, actually... some core functionalities of the system are often update via the Store, like Access Point.
  • They actually stated that it would remain separate to allow more frequent updates. But that doesn't mean that they can't build some new API to allow you to use it without launching the app (eg, the rumoured third party integration into messaging and the already-existing third-party VoIP/Video integration).
  • Hum... I was hoping for some "invisible" Skype, again, pretty much like Facetime, because I think it works great in a mobile ecosystem and would be nice to have it. It's all MS, afterall =) But if they just make the app work like you suggest, would be great.
  • It'll be great if Skype could become something like that. It can automatically replace SMS and phone calls once it can detect the recipient also has a Windows Phone or Skype running on iOS and Android. Skype voice quality is superior and SMS replacement is a great thing for countries where text messaging isn't unlimited but costly.
  • Nice !! i can actually use the win 8 app now
  • I have my contacts of facebook in my skype desktop app, but in my WP8 i dont have idea how i put this contacs in the list. This is an error? or This is a bug? or I dont know what i doing? THank
  • throw new NotImplementedException();
  • ????????
  • Developer humour. When you create an empty function in you code as a reminder to complete it, you put 'throw new NotImplementedException()' to make sure a nice big error message shows up if you try to use it before it's finished (in C# anyway, other languages are similar). So it's a geek-humour way of saying 'that feature is not implemented yet'.
  • I'm fairly new to Skype, but wouldn't you want it to ring on all devices if you're logged in?  I know if I have my 2520 and my phone with me, I want to have the option of using one for a call.
  • It's more about control. I'd like the option to not have a device ring (without having to log out). Right now, it's all or nothing. Put it this way: if I'm on the PC, why would I want my phone to ring? Skype should be able to detect which is the active session, or let the user set that.
  • I imagine the best solution will be to let the user set which device they want to ring first. Because sometimes I could have Skype on and snapped on my PC while chatting with someone else on my phone. Technically I'm active on both devices so it will be hard to determine where Skype should forward the call.
  • I think user configurable is the better option. If I'm on Skype on my PC and I receive a Skype voice call, I'm more likely to want to take it on my phone than my computer.
  • Yeah I think the big issue is they all don't stop ringing when you do answer on one though.  I agree about ringing on all logged in so you can choose which.  There's no way to know which device you're physically at or choose to use at any given time.
  • Exactly. A call should ring to all devices... it just needs to stop once you've answered one.
  • About time!!
  • "What’s worse, answering the call won’t silence the rest." What? Of course it does.
  • You must have magic devices then. It's a running joke with some of us here. I guess the point being, it's certainly not consistent, because I've been on calls with someone while their incoming call continues to ring on my Surface 2. It's maddening. And god forbid if you have open and not know it...
  • I will agree that its no 100% reliable. But the feature has definitely been implemented. I can answer calls on Xbox One and immediately my WP, Surface RT, and Skype for Desktop on laptop will shut up. I have noticed this works better if it rang at least a couple of times instead of answering immediately after it starts ringing.  
  • Same here. I was actually surprised yesterday when I got a call while logged in on both my Surface and phone and the phone stopped ringing immediately as soon as I picked up on the Surface.
  • This only seems to apply to one-to-one chats, but not to group chats. On their blog they say that the same experience is coming to group chats in the coming months. Oh man... :-(
  • I hope they can eventually get this to a point where i can read/reply to message from my WP from any device. That would be awesome.
  • Seriously, how long until this garbage piece of Skype stuff gets solved totally. SERIOUSLY! They better hurry up, Google Hangouts is already light years ahead.
  • Do you really believe that Microsoft is sitting there laughing and intentionally not making the desired updates. I agree that we should continue to express our desire to see certain features implemented but we should raise the style in which we communicate our dissatisfaction regarding product releases.
  • Yes I do really believe that. And I think more people do.
  • Yes cos I can't even share a jpeg now.
  • You have to realise that Skype was originally a peer-to-peer-only service. None of these cloud features like notifications, offline messages or anything existed until recently. So they have the massive challenge of implementing these new features while ensuring not to break existing clients (which would cause a massive drove of users to quit).
  • Then maybe the argument should be: why doesn't Skype work nearly as well on WP as on all other platforms??  Using Skype on my BlackBerry was a significantly better experience than it is on my 928.  Pretty unbelievable, really.
  • Skype works best on my Iphone3gs better than anything I own (or any friends own), My poor computer has to run skype 4.2 :(.
  • Hangouts ftw . . . lol if the user base was there I would honestly switch over and just remove Skype.
  • Finally, they've stepped on the right road. gl...
  • I guess I don't mind when both phone and Xbox one ring at the same time that way I won't miss the call. How else is it supposed to work better?
  • Come on just integrate skype in the dialer and the messaging app for 8.1 :)
  • You guys get notifications at the same time on your pc and phone every time you get a message? -- edit -- sorry, this post already mentions that, I guess I just skipped.
  • Looks like they finally fixed the constant crashing issues with Skype on my surface RT from the last update. Good to see that they are taking steps in the right direction.
  • Do you guys at WPC use the WP Skype app for messaging, or a third party app like IM+?
  • I think the problem is Skype allows ANY (I dont know how many) to be logged in with the same account...
    Im sorry but thats a mistake, how many messengers allow that? especially the ones that have call features? I use Line and Skype, Line has desktop, modern, and windows phone apps. what does they do? they make you choose, you want desktop one? you cant use modern Line app, and you cant log in in different computers, you can log in and force the unlog of the other desktop if you go to a laptop or whatever.... but my point is you can only use ONE desktop, WIndows8 Line app at the same time. what do they do with Phone? there is an option that says "turn off smartphone notifications when logged in o the PC version (notifications will resume after 5 minutes of inactivity)" see? you can check that box and then dont listen your phone going crazy for using desktop version. so what I think its Skpe should or have a similar option about turning off mobile if you are using desktop version if you want. or allow only 1 desktop version to run... because sometimes I make a call in a netbook i have, and I hear my win8 app ringing.
    maybe an option to set an "active" device? maybe a "we are detecting you are logged in in multiple devices which one you want notifications on?" or set a priority for the devices, so you dont have to always set an option, just once and you can modify as you wish. there is a lot of things SKype can do to fix this thing, but I think one mistake is allow multiple skypes run at the same time.
  • I wouldn't say allowing multiple to run is a mistake. I use skype on my desktop to share my screen and I use my phone as the call/chat. MS, I think, is trying to fix all the skypes at once, but they need to focus on getting one done right(ether the phone or the WIn8 App) then work on the other.
  • Hopefully, the next improvement to the WP8 and W8.1 Skype apps will give them the ability to show notifications from group messages. I get group messages and don't get any notification for them from my phone or my Surface 2. So, I need to have my desktop's sound cranked up for me to hear it. I even have my status set to let people know to message me directly if I'm not answering group messages... After that, screen sharing and file sharing would be extremely helpful. Thanks!
  • They have been fixing this problem since Nero was emperor. So it will be done around the time the sun starts turning into a red giant.
  • MS bought Skype in 2011.
  • Skype should replace the dialer/contacts/messaging app imo on wp
  • Does Skype on W8 metro still require you to merge your email contact list with your skype contacts list? I Don't like that requirement. Prefer to keep them seperate. Cant see myself leaving the desktop app if it stays like this
  • Related to Skype, I received the following alert email today saying Skype for VZW will be discontinued in favor of the standard Skype app.  I truly hope this improves the skype mobile experience on my 928 because it's currently so unreliable and disappointing that it's nearly worthless. "Hello, We've been working hard to make Skype for mobile even better than ever but to do so, sometimes we need to stop supporting older products. To offer you the best mobile experience possible, we're discontinuing Skype mobile™ for Verizon from the 24th April and replacing it with our standard versions of Skype for iPhone, Windows Phone, Android, BlackBerry and a whole bunch of other devices. This way, you'll be able to enjoy many more great features such as video calling and video messaging. Don't forget, you can still use Skype on a variety of other devices such as your computer, tablet, TV and even your home phone, so you can stay in touch at home, at work or on the go. Talk soon,
  • Skype is a great tool for allowing friends and families to stay in touch with one another. Whether across town or halfway across the world, it helps keep people in touch.
  • Crazy how long its taking to fix small things like this.
  • The contact list is a disaster. Microsoft needs to send some UX folks over there to show them how its done.
  • I would just like a version that will actually load without crashing. About 2 updates ago, I have been unable to get Skype to load on my 920 or 1520. After initial login wih my MS account, it crashes, and will never load again...
  • With regards to the unification of skype messages, does anyone know how this will work with Messenger? We use the chat service in the Family Room and this seems to use the old messenger service. This is integrated in to the messaging service. It's also integrated with Skype. But if you read a message, skype still shows it has an unread message.
  • Updates like these make me sad :( here I am with an iphone, a droid, and a linux mint computer and I get none of these needed fixes.