Skype's Windows desktop client could be getting a makeover [Update]

While Microsoft has been updating all of its Skype versions constantly, including most recently its Android app, the original Windows desktop client has not had a major change in its user interface in some time. This week, a Neowin reader claims he got an unexpected update to his Skype client that contained a new chat UI for the VoIP program.

Click image above for larger.

Our tipster "Marvin" told us that while he has "no idea" how he got the update, the final result was that the chat interface now looks a lot different. Indeed, the screenshot that he sent to us, shown above, resembles the Modern UI found in the Windows 8 version of Skype. In addition, there appears to be new video and audio icons on the right side of the screen, compared to the older versions that are found on the left side of the current Skype client.

"Marvin" also told us in a subsequent email, " ... the chat pane is now right while making a call, the call background is flatter and the panel shown when Skype is inactive is now grey." Unless this is a elaborate hoax, it would appear that "Marvin" accidentally got a version of Skype for Windows that was not supposed to be publicly released yet. We have contacted Microsoft to see if they wish to comment.

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson sent us this statement: "It is important for us to test, evaluate and learn from feedback when introducing new functionality. We regularly conduct gradual feature releases in preview so that we can learn from a smaller user base."

Thanks again to Marvin for the tip!

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i was hoping that WLM would be saved as part of the MS "reversal of colossal mistakes from the last 2 years" programme they are currently rolling out. No word so far though... damn shame, WLM was the king of messengers and it's been replaced with a sub par featureless mess. Quite why they never merged skype calls into WLM for the windows desktop client i'll never know. Another idiotic MS step backwards :(

how about fix message syncing? I log into my home PC and I receive messages from 2 days ago that I received on my work PC. It's rather annoying.

Since M$ read these forums
How bout putting custom emotes back in both the desktop and the metro version?
Thats all we really want :(

Remember Julie Larson Green moved to the Applications and Services Group. So unless this is an April Fool's joke, Skype *may* be getting the traditional Larson-Green reimagining treatment. :p

Skype can't get any worse than it is now.. And the competition isn't really innovating either, Hangouts hasn't gotten a useful update in months, SMS integration was poorly integrated, and VoIP calls still haven't come to Android let alone Google Voice integration.

They need to drop Skype for the desktop. I'm presuming since Modern-UI apps will be able to run in windows in Windows 9, that Skype for the Desktop will be a windowed-Modern UI app. Hopefully with more functionality by then. Also hopefully by then, Skype will have more features.

I'm praying for some true Skype integration in Windows Phone 8.1 like using it as a default SMS app. I saw a leaked screenshot of a Skype button during a regular phone call, so it looks like Skype is getting better integration, I just hope it is worth while IMO, and not just getting up to the competition half-assed.

I don't much care for the fact that messages now take up twice as much space, so I'll just stick with what we have now.

Since moving from MSN Messenger, I no longer have the option to appear offline to others without blocking them - this shows up to the people you are blocking as your details suddenly become unavailable. Every couple of days I'm logged out, I have only basic controls.

How does a company replace something that worked so well with such a limited tool?

MS drive me nuts, they take handy features away from everything!!!!
I honestly don't care about Skype anymore, it's rubbish.

I just don't care about how it looks - just give damn option to disable synchronizing chats across devices. There's option to disable saving chat history on PC but I can still see everything on my WP and iPad.

Nothing I love more than a bright white screen piercing my eyes...

Here's hoping they leave some room for customization. :/

The window is maximized, it'll obviously be less eye-straying when smaller. I do miss how the MSN convo window was though. :(

I hope that there's a long external beta for this (presumably) 7.0 version and that they don't just dump it on us one day.

rseiler said,
I hope that there's a long external beta for this (presumably) 7.0 version and that they don't just dump it on us one day.

It's actually the version currently out in an other branch... I donĀ“t know exactly which it is, but 66 is a partner version with additional services. That being 64, I guess it's a partner version without these services.

rseiler said,
I would hope that the border between chat and history is resize-able as it is now.

Your hopes are dashed. While you CAN resize it, you can only resize it to a very limited degree. There's much less space for your message now even when adjusted maximally.

No, this is not an April fool's joke... will upload the Skype build and send it as a reply... if neowin wants to share it, you will see it yourself ;)

And thanks for water-marking my shot :D

Download-Fritz said,
No, this is not an April fool's joke... will upload the Skype build and send it as a reply... if neowin wants to share it, you will see it yourself ;)

And thanks for water-marking my shot :D

Mind of I take a look?

Hmm... I just saw an update right now, but after updating I still see the same old (current) UI? Not the one in the screenshot above.

My problems with the desktop app are features not the damn look. Why people have a fit about how it looks is beyond me. I lost my in call overlay window by accidentally closing it. Took me forever to find out how to get it back.

I can't prioritize sound/video devices and changing them is annoyingly complicated for something that could be much easier. (I dock/undock my surface regularly with different hardware).

Favorites not synced. Message History not synced past 6 months. Auto Status change is horrible. Right Click and copy ridiculousness (can't get raw text reliably).

Make its UX better before focusing on dumb gradients or account pictures in the chat window :)

MrHumpty said,
My problems with the desktop app are features not the damn look. Why people have a fit about how it looks is beyond me. I lost my in call overlay window by accidentally closing it. Took me forever to find out how to get it back.

Happened to me too.

When people say they don't like the UI it's not necessarily how it looks but how it works.

To be honest the RT app is not any better. Skype should get their head out of their ... or they will be replaced by an alternative one day or another.

LaP said,
Happened to me too.

When people say they don't like the UI it's not necessarily how it looks but how it works.

To be honest the RT app is not any better. Skype should get their head out of their ... or they will be replaced by an alternative one day or another.

The RT app is fine for what it's supposed to be used for... that and the fact that the RT app is in a new framework that's really barely mature and its done completely in C++ (supposedly) which is probably harder to pull together.

The Desktop App, however, is a mature framework with a tech team behind it already. You'd think they could spare a few devs to polish up the UX. They *have* been doing craploads of work under the hood but they need to polish the UX too a bit.

I guess for me I don't understand why people care if it looks better. I could care less what something looks like (to an extent) as long as it works well. Bringing it in line with the RT app looks wise is not a priority.

Of course, they can walk and chew gum at the same time... perhaps this update has UX fixes too.

Can they make it look like MSN Messenger? MS owns it... soooooo.... ;3 don't forget custom display pics, animated display pics, custom smilesy, and bring back winks!!!!

Izlude said,
Can they make it look like MSN Messenger? MS owns it... soooooo.... ;3 don't forget custom display pics, animated display pics, custom smilesy, and bring back winks!!!!

Yeah that's one decision I will never understand. Msn messenger(Windows Live) was the best messenger bar none and they got rid of it for Skype who has always been a handicap in usability. Heck MSN messenger had such a following worldwide that they could have easily transition Skype into it.

Talking of MSN - it still works! Think all the servers shut down permanently in 10 days or so though.

nickcruz said,

Yeah that's one decision I will never understand.

And Zune. And Live Mesh. And Windows Mobile to some extent. I might be missing a few others. All excellent products killed in favor of other solutions lacking basic features present in the former.

Probably an april fool but ABOUT *()$**(#&*$()%$&(#)*$() TIME. Skype desktop has by far the worst UI of all the programs installed on my computer.

I'm not sure which version of Skype for Windows Desktop you're using but the UI is hardly a mess, In fact I'd say its fairly clean and clutter free..

I'm going to have to agree with LaP on this one. The Skype interface for the standard Windows desktop isn't that great. It works well with voice and video chat, but outside of that, using it as a regular chat messenger is pretty awful. Most people (myself included) easily miss whatever messages are sent to us, the chat windows are bulky and far from thought out... I mean, I honestly prefer Steam or Facebook Mesenger for Windows for chatting, just because of how much easier it is to manage.

Hell, a screen of FB Messenger.
http://i.imgur.com/l1SqkXF.jpg

I'd just like to be able to use Skype more often, instead of only for voice/video.

The UI for Skype on Windows Desktop is fine by my standards. One problem though... I can't scroll with a touchscreen. I have to tap and use the scrollbar for that... Which sucks. I hope in an upcoming update they fix that, but they probably want me to use the Modern App which I won't :p

dead.cell said,
I'm going to have to agree with LaP on this one. The Skype interface for the standard Windows desktop isn't that great. It works well with voice and video chat, but outside of that, using it as a regular chat messenger is pretty awful. Most people (myself included) easily miss whatever messages are sent to us, the chat windows are bulky and far from thought out... I mean, I honestly prefer Steam or Facebook Mesenger for Windows for chatting, just because of how much easier it is to manage.

Hell, a screen of FB Messenger.
http://i.imgur.com/l1SqkXF.jpg

I'd just like to be able to use Skype more often, instead of only for voice/video.

Too bad Facebook Messenger for Windows is going to be discontinued soon :(

The UI for Facebook messenger for Windows is horrible. Skype wins by miles.

I would certainly love an overhaul, though, simply because it's been there for so long and a change would be a breath of fresh air. If, however, this is what they are going to bring, I'd rather stay with the current one for life!

Anonymous1b said,
The UI for Facebook messenger for Windows is horrible. Skype wins by miles.

I would certainly love an overhaul, though, simply because it's been there for so long and a change would be a breath of fresh air. If, however, this is what they are going to bring, I'd rather stay with the current one for life!


Sorry bro, but there is no damn way you can tell me this looks better. Took this screen cap just for you.

http://i.imgur.com/7dwrZxa.png

It's not the ads. It's the in your face rounded 3d jump and HUGE AMOUNTS of screen real estate wasting for things that can EASILY take up just 1/5th of the space.

Skype is a horrible chat client. Has been and still is.

I liked MSN Messenger with n-patch and/or Messenger+... I know msgplus is available for Skype and it improves it slightly. But not even close to MSN/Live messenger.

Shouldn't unchecking "Help and Skype tips" and "Promotions" in Tools -> Options -> Notifications -> Alert and messages disable all ads in Skype?

dead.cell said,

Sorry bro, but there is no damn way you can tell me this looks better. Took this screen cap just for you.

http://i.imgur.com/7dwrZxa.png

Well, if you take the whole enchilada, with the contacts on the right and all, even with the tiny ad in the bottom right, I prefer Skype's UI to Facebook Messenger's. Maybe I just have an unorthodox design choice, huh?

I'm okay with the friends list, but how often do you use the list as opposed to the chat window for messaging? Seems like they need more focus on the part that's actually being used more.

@NitramX9X, that didn't do anything for the ad in the chat. Thanks for trying though.

true. i could not stand the 6.x client and today i reverted to 4.2 and finally i am revealed. from 450+ MB ram down to 91 and the speed at which it works is unprecedented .