With the news this morning that Skype will be included with Windows 8.1, we wanted to know we were getting our story straight, and so put in a question or two to our friendly Microsoft spokesperson. If you remember, Microsoft used to ship a program called Windows Messenger with XP, which it then dropped in favor of an installation of Windows Live Essentials in Vista and Windows 7 (which came pre-loaded on many new machines, or could be installed as a package). Then, after a similar trend in Windows Phone, and as Microsoft moved away from the “Windows Live” branding, Microsoft included a “messaging” app as one of the “core” apps that shipped with Windows 8.
In the meantime, Microsoft bought Skype, and has been slowly but surely integrating it into the ecosystem. So today we learned that Skype would be “built into the Windows 8.1 platform”. So what does that mean exactly? According to our spokesperson, “messaging” will indeed join Windows Messenger and Windows Live Messenger on the scrap heap, and be removed from Windows 8.1, to be replaced by Skype:
In the new version of Windows 8.1, there will not be a separate Messaging App. Microsoft believes in allowing consumers the choice of connecting with people in any way that is relevant to them. Skype is part of the Microsoft family of apps and therefore it is natural for Skype to be pre-loaded on to our latest devices.
To further clarify, Skype will indeed remain an “app”, and although it will come pre-loaded, you will be able to uninstall it and/or replace it with something else if you desire:
The difference is: now, instead of downloading the Skype app, it comes with Windows 8.1. Like any in-the-box app on Windows, people can customize their Start screen and can choose to remove the app tile from their main screen or uninstall Skype altogether.
We’ve never seen much reason for the “messaging” app, or the non-branding that came with it. Understanding that it was going to take a while to integrate Skype into the Microsoft family (and we think there’s still quite a bit of work to do – the way Skype handles multiple points of presence (MPOP), for example, has yet to make any semblance of sense to us), perhaps “messaging” was a necessary stepping stone to today’s announcements. At any rate, Microsoft looks to be fully behind Skype (as long as you don’t count Lync), and we’re able to kiss “messaging” goodbye, at least on the desktop. Who knows how long it will linger on Windows Phone, but that’s another post for another day.