Skype for Windows 8 updated, improves performance and enables contact blocking

The Skype team has released an update for Windows 8, announcing the changes (opens in new tab) in an official blog article. Version 1.6 implements a number of improvements to further enhance the user experience. A notable feature addition is the ability for consumers to better control who can contact them by blocking contacts. 

To block contacts in the latest release, bring up the command bar (swipe from the top / bottom or right-click) and select "block". Contacts can also be reported as spam. The performance improvements include loading speed and reliability across the app. For example, contacts are reported to load faster when accessed.

A number of minor fixes are also bundled in the update, including: 

  • In some cases, outgoing video was not displayed after switching camera in the Options menu
  • Calling In some cases, Skype displayed the wrong call error message when a call failed
  • Generic Skype occasionally crashed when clicking on the “info” menu option
  • Generic Skype crashed after typing “batch” into the IM input field
  • Calling It was not possible to switch between calls on hold

Unfortunate there's a known issue in version 1.6 for Windows 8. Should Skype be running in the background, call answering may not succeed in some cases. There's no workaround presently available, but we expect the team to be actively looking into the problem. We last looked at Skype on Windows back in February when the app was bumped to version 1.5.

It's quite a nice refresh to see applied to Microsoft's communication service. The company certainly has to pour more resources into the development of Skype on Windows platforms (including the Xbox console), especially since it's set to take over from Live Messenger as the main form of communication.  It's going to be interesting to see how the apps develop as time progresses.

You can download Skype (opens in new tab) from the Windows Store.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Seems there is no update for the desktop version?
  • Why would you need or want a desktop version with windows 8 anyway?
  • Well not everyone has a touch screen. Metro UI just plain stinks with a mouse and keyboard.
  • why? Buttons to big to hit?
  • Exactly. This may seem silly at first, but moving around the Start screen with the cursor feels like dealing with a UI that has compromised a lot to be usable for both touch and a mouse pointer. Imagine flipping a switch on the wall that's 10 times the normal size, made to be used both by you and a giant. Even when it is easy to push it doesn't feel natural. Same happens here.
  • I thought this at first as well, but the large start screen tiles are great when you're on a trackpad or a thinkpad nub pointer. That extra size above a medium sized desktop icon makes a difference. In fact I usually set my desktop icons to the largest size at work where I'm using Win 7 laptop for precisely this reason.
    Win 8 has it's problems, but the start screen buttons/icons/tile size isn't one of them in my book.
  • I have no problems with the Metro UI using a non touch computer
  • Guys. No need to fight. I do have non touch both on desktop & laptop & i am absolutely happy with Metro by the way & Windows 8 in general.
  • Perhaps you need to learn how to use a PC...
  • I'd disagree. Windows 8 rocks with a mouse and keyboard. It sucks with a track pad though :/
  • Because almost nobody in a professional environment will expect to leave the desktop, and a lot wont have access to anything from the store anyway.
  • Why do I prefer the desktop version? There's nothing wrong with the metro version, but seriously why would I use the metro one on this system:
  • Nice setup you got there! But aren't you using Win 7?
  • No. That picture is months old. I've been on windows 8 since January.
  • Contact importing is what you need the desktop version for
  • Because the Metro version leaves much to be desired. I use the Desktop version on my Surface Pro but I'll be glad when the Metro version works well enough to use becasue I like the UI better.
  • Why use desktop version over Windows 8 version? Because I have yet to receive a notification using the Windows 8 version. Not for missed calls, not for messages. I have unistalled and reinstalled software. Notifications are turned on. All to no avail.
    Same for my Windows phone, HTC 8X/Verizon. No notifications. I have notifications turned on. I`m always signed on. Nothing. Come on Microsoft.
  • Anyone else having problems with notifications?
  • Yeah. People messaging me or calling as I'm logged in on my Lumia 920 but no notifications whatsoever. People think I'm ignoring them. Only notice once i log into the desktop version. Get it sorted!
  • I actually use the desktop version more often on my PC because I talk to multiple people at once
  • I use the dekstop version as for whever reason the metro version does not accept my username details that work on the desktop one go figure
  • Some people prefer it this way. Why ask such retarded questions?
  • Is there a Free Video Chat for Windows Phone 8 like there is for Apple and Google?
    Why do we have to pay $10 to Video Chat on our Phone?
  • i want this version for Windows Phone 7.8. 
  • Is there a log-out option now?
  • Yes. click top right corner
  • Thx. Last time I checked there wasn't, so maybe its worth another try now.
  • It still doesn't let you logout if you are signed in using your Microsoft account as the PC user
  • Incoming calls works on windows phone now...when did this happen?
  • When a version of WP 8 was released months ago.
  • Only thing that suck with Skype on windows 8" is u can not use it on desktop, that sucks, if u are working on things and want to move it into a small screen u cannot
  • I believe that is alleviated by the whole snapping and background running things. If that isn't enough for you though that's fine. Personally it is enough for me.
  • The one thing I still miss, since that first release of the Metro version, is the possibility to link the Messenger and Skype contacts to show just one in the list!! Why is so dificult to implement this?????????????
  • Messenger will be gone so only Skype will remain. So I don't see this as a critical bug. And I could do that by the way
  • Skype has been causing the BSOD for me. It opens fine, but as soon as i try to do anything...... :(
  • Look for the BSOD code search it on the internet. Most probably you have a buggy driver(I would venture something DX related like display driver or camera driver
  • I cant read the error message, its not clear. It has something to do with a driver, I just cant see exactly which one it is. I have tried looking a couple times but could not find anything. It started happening right when I upgraded to Windows 8 Pro.
  • Go to the events log and you'll find crashes there. Also try reliability report. Type those in the search box in charms.
  • Thanks, I will try that.
  • I do have a Lumia 920, the update hasnt arrive yet
  • The update is for Windows 8, not WP8.
  • Windows 8 Windows Phone 8
  • I just rather use messenger but thats me
  • And me...
  • Also, how come, Skype calls does not work on 3g or 4g , It seems to be blocked for this .
  • My skype for wp doesnt work when the earphone is plugged in. Anyone else?
  • They'd better push an upd for WP version.
  • Are the android and iOS versions of Skype light years ahead of the windows 8 version? I've never tries it and those platforms so I have no idea.
  • Now where is my Log Out button?
  • Anyone have a vx3000 ? Windows 8 doesn't support it so u have to use the desktop app.
  • So, is this update for WP8 too?
  • Skype on windows phone isn't half the experience it was on the N900. Since Microsoft own Skype you'd think it would be better integrated...
  • People, isn't it funny how the CREATORS of a system are releasing updates that improve performance? They know everything of the system since the beginning of Windows 8 development and yet they gradually release updates that increase performance like they didn't know it could be done in a way to run faster before. I'm not talking about Skype only, the Productivity (People + Mail + Messages + Calendar) app update some days ago is another example (and it's still not as smooth and bug-free as I'd expect). Funny... And not only Microsoft does this, but also Google, etc, it's interesting...
  • You e never developed software before, have you? Its a constant, iterative learning process even when you know\own the API.
  • Group chat sucks on it still don't receive messages when opening and in app
  • Needs Facebook chat
  • Skype SUCK"S bring back the messenger .
  • Still no can't get messages.
  • I use the desktop version of Skype. More stable.
  • Biggest issue: after a reboot it doesn't start/receive call notifications etc.