Skype for Windows Phone Beta Launches at MWC

Skype4WindowsPhone.logoCoinciding with today’s opening of the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Skype has announced the availability of Skype for Windows Phone beta. Not surprisingly, it’s the first Skype offering to arise out of the Microsoft acquisition of Skype. It features both voice and video calling as well as some nifty integration into the WIndows Metro user interface.

According to Skype’s VP of Product, Rich Osterloh:

With Skype for Windows Phone Beta you can make free audio and video calls** to your Skype contacts over 3G and 4G or WiFi, make affordable calls to landlines and mobiles using Skype Credit, create and hold one-to-one and group chats, and update your profile and account information, among others features.

Watch the YouTube video to pick up the flavor of how it works;

Unique features include predictive text while typing chat messages, support for creating group chats, a jump list feature to find contacts, following chat messages during a call and a unique overall Windows Phone Metro user interface design. One would have to assume it supports the Skype SILK codec for superwideband audio. It supports Skype-to-Skype calling to all Skype-supported platforms (Skype for Windows 4.2 and above, Skype for Mac OS X 2.8 and above, Skype for Linux, Skype for iOS 3.0 and above, Skype for Android 2.0 and above, and Skype running on TVs.)

It requires Windows Phone 7.5. As with Skype for Android, Skype will need to continuously provide updates to support new versions of devices supporting Windows Phone mobile. The current beta release supports:

  • Nokia Lumia 710
  • Nokia Lumia 800
  • HTC Titan
  • HTC Radar
  • Samsung Focus S
  • Samsung Focus Flash

Skype expects to release the gold version in April. According to Osterloh, this is a work-in-progress:

This is only the beginning for Skype for Windows Phone…it’s just going to get better and better. We see incredible potential to include Skype capabilities in Windows Phone in order to enable a great experience for you.

Bottom Line: It’s the first version of Skype to be incorporated into a Windows product since Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype; from the video it appears to have a unique user interface. I’ve seen lots of positive coverage and complements about Windows Phone. However, given its low market penetration,  it will be interesting to see if the availability of Skype can help drive up demand and market share for Windows Phone.

Update: Product Manager Heather LeRoy points out a few tips: Make sure you get the most out of the Skype for Windows Phone Beta app!

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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