A new partner for Skype in China, and new Skype features coming

Today, on the Skype blog, Microsoft announced a new partnership with Guangming Founder (or GMF, itself a joint venture with GMW.cn and Chinese computing company Founder) to bring updated Skype experiences to China. In March, Microsoft shut down its MSN messaging operations around the world except for in China, where TOM Online has operated Skype as a joint venture since 2007, with Microsoft acquiring the VOIP and messaging service in 2011.

The new partnership will bring updated experiences for “Windows 8.1, Desktop Classic (Mac and Windows desktop versions), Android and iOS (Phone and Tablet versions) and coming soon to Windows Phone”, and users in China are receiving “guidance” on how to upgrade during a beta period, starting today. A new website at Skype.gmw.cn has more information (in Chinese)

The move will bring all of Skype’s operations under one roof, so to speak, and comes just in time for a series of upcoming improvements to the service. Earlier this week, Skype Product Manager Jeff Kunins spoke with The Verge on what’s coming for Skype, including fixes for messaging syncing problems, notifications, and more:

Microsoft is testing a number of updates to its client apps that will enable full message-sync across multiple devices, including whether a message is read or unread.

The sync support means that notifications for messages will trigger on all devices connected to a Skype account, but notifications will only continue on the device that’s active and in use. At present notifications will trigger on all devices connected to Skype constantly, a headache for users with a Windows PC, tablet, and phone.

Skype also suffers from problems syncing call states, meaning some devices will continue ringing even if another device has picked up the call. While that problem won’t be fixed at the same time as messaging, it’s something Microsoft is working to fix.

Microsoft is also improving the load times on its Skype Windows Phone app alongside better notifications, but additional improvements are coming next year. “I don’t think we’ve talked publicly a bunch about Windows Phone 8.1 and the experience, but as you can imagine we’re certainly working closely with them and how that experience is,” explains Kunins. “We’ve made a ton of progress on our Windows Phone app in general, and as you can imagine we’re doing a lot of fun things for Windows Phone 8.1 as well. I think there will be some fun things to see there.”

So, both in China and in the rest of the world, lots of improvements coming soon for Skype!