Skype for Windows 8 app arrives this week, part of People hub

Skype Notifications on Start Screen

Skype’s voice and video chat client will appear on computers running on Windows 8 when Microsoft’s new software platform debuts on Oct. 26. Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011 for $8.5 billion, has become a de-facto online calling standard, growing in both voice and video minutes since its 2003 launch. Skype is redesigned for the more touch-friendly Windows 8 system and supports Microsoft’s “live tile” interface, which can show if you’ve missed any calls.

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With Microsoft’s ownership of Skype, it shouldn’t surprise that the software is heavily integrated into the People hub in Windows 8; this is the central application that manages contacts and social interactions with your friends and peers. The Skype team explains the benefits:

“The People app brings all your personal and work contacts together, alive with their social activities and photos. Simply logging in to Skype and connecting your Skype account to the People app, will automatically add the Skype details of everyone you want to keep in touch with. You can even reach your contacts who aren’t yet on Skype through calling their mobile or landline number if you have a phone number stored for them and a little Skype credit or a subscription.”

Indeed, I think Microsoft’s choice of a hub for contacts weighed heavily on its decision to purchase Skype. Users were first introduced to the People hub before the purchase as it was part of Microsoft’s Windows Phone software. Knowing that not all devices are phones — think tablets, laptops and desktops — Microsoft benefits from a Windows app that uses the web for voice and video communications directly in the People hub. And this integration doesn’t stop there: Missed calls and other Skype data will appear as notifications on Windows 8.

Skype integration in People hub

The overall look of the new Skype app fits nicely in the Windows 8 user interface. While the blog post notes that Skype for Windows 8 will either be pre-installed or can be downloaded from the Windows Store, there’s no mention of Windows RT, the version of Windows that runs on smartphone chips.

According to ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley, Skype for Windows 8 will be available for download on Windows RT machines, so Microsoft’s new Surface RT tablets can use it. I confirmed that with the folks at Skype, and was told, “Skype for Windows 8 works across Windows 8 editions, including on ARM-based devices running Windows 8 RT.”

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