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Skype once again giving presence controls an overhaul

In its latest move to address a storm of feedback from Skype users, Microsoft is revamping its presence controls once again. If this is giving you a small case of déjà vu, it's because the Skype team did something similar in October of 2017. But this time, Microsoft says it has combed through user feedback to produce a new lineup of four presence states that are intended to give you more control over when you appear active.

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Here's a look at how the new presence states break down:

  • Active: You are in the app. On Desktop: you have the app running in the background and are either using [the] mouse or keyboard.
    • Can you set the status? Yes.
  • Recently Active: You were active less than an hour ago
    • Can you set the status? No.
  • Away: You were active more than an hour ago.
    • Can you set the status? Yes.
  • Not Active: You are signed out, not reachable or have not been active for an extended period.
    • Can you set the status? No.

In the case of the latter three statuses, Skype will show the time since you were last active as well.

Skype new presence controls

Things go beyond these four basic presence displays, however. You'll also be able to hide your presence, which will continuously show you as "Not Active" to your contacts. The downside is that you also won't be able to see others' presences when you choose to hide your own.

A new "Quiet Mode" will also be available as a more pleasant replacement of sorts for the current "Do Not Disturb" status. "Many users shared that they found the Do Not Disturb status rude and preferred to sign out to minimize interruptions," Microsoft says. "We plan to have a new feature that we believe is a subtler but better way to handle unwanted interruptions." Quiet Mode works by silencing incoming messages and calls, and you still have the option to set your status to "Do Not Disturb" to let contacts know that you aren't responding to messages.

Finally, in addition to all of the above options, you'll also be able to use status messages such as "Working remotely" and "Commuting" to communicate whether you're reachable or if they might expect a delayed response.

These new presence features are in testing with Insiders and will eventually roll out to everyone, Microsoft says. They come alongside a change to the Skype mobile app that let you save a new number in skype from contacts or the dial pad. You'll soon be able to add and edit existing Skype contacts' numbers as well.

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These moves are all part of a broader effort by Microsoft to take a step back and address outcry from Skype users over some of the more controversial changes in the modernized Skype version 8. Other changes coming down the line include split view, improved privacy settings, and more.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

4 Comments
  • I'm so afraid it's all too late but Microsoft is finally doing great things with Skype and with ToDo.
  • If they can just make it work and simple to use they will be fine. Skype is a well known brand
  • For goodness sake, sack the Dev team. Skype has been ruined so many times...
  • Thsse are all well and good, but is it too much to ask to be able to set the status as away and leave it as away? In windows live messenger, we could add our own presence controls. All they have to do is add the ability to set ourselves away which is PERSISTENT across devices, add the ability to add custom presence controls that can be differentiated by colour (again PERSISTENT across devices) and THEN layer it with the functionality mentioned in the article. For heaven's sakes it's not that difficult. The difficulty is introduced when you are trying to squeeze pennies out of a rinsed sponged. I say that because the only way Skype can squeeze profits is to reduce active connections and that's what they have been doing but at the detriment of the user experience. They should stop trying to squeeze blood out of a stone because it's been proven time and time again they aren't getting anywhere. Instead they should have been trying to increase the user base and growing the real time transalation functionality. They should also stop trying usurp the sms functionality, they should instead complement that functionality as it's been proven time and time again the sms relay via skype is nowhere near on par with imessage. Windows Live messenger and Rooms was on par with imessage but that was axed in favour of skype. So instead forcing SMS through Skype, skype messages should be routed through to the sms app and only then messaging everywhere works along with the your phone app. The key point is that the user has options to whether to use the skype app or the sms app, Skype or any other company should not be in the business in trying to dictate how users communicate, they should be in the business in facilitating how users communicate and enabling them to do so easily. Therefore every IM app hooks into the sms app and the sms app becomes the messaging hub which was the initial design and philosophy. If the user wants to open these messages in the relevant apps ask them if they wish to do so and have an opt-in text box to make the sms app or to open in the appropriate app as default (app defaults - same functionality we have on the PC - again not so difficult).