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article imageSkype's unpopular design overhaul makes its way to the desktop

By James Walker     Aug 18, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has launched a preview version of its new Skype app for Windows desktop PCs. It includes the new design, focus and features of the recently overhauled Skype mobile app. The revised look and feel has been met with a decidedly frosty reception.
Microsoft rolled out a completely rewritten version of Skype's mobile app earlier this year. It's based on a bolder, brighter design and a social-first theme. Whereas Skype's previously concentrated on being a place for serious conversations, it's now pivoting towards being a fully-fledged Snapchat clone. The decision hasn't been a success so far.
Nonetheless, Microsoft is pressing forward. This week, it followed through on its previous commitment to launch the new design on desktop devices. You can now download a preview of the overhauled app for Windows which is "designed with desktop in mind."
Skype Preview
Skype Preview
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Microsoft has combined the existing two-pane Skype view with the styling of the modern mobile app. It's also included all the social elements though, including bright gradient backgrounds for messages and its Snapchat Stories clone. There are a few new features for desktop users, including @mentions and a dedicated media panel, which Microsoft says will increase productivity.
"Skype Preview delivers most of the great features of our next generation mobile experience but is specifically designed with desktop in mind, to take full advantage of the larger screen," said Microsoft. "Skype Preview puts chat front and center – making this the most expressive Skype ever. Group chats are livelier with new features that improve your connection with friends and family. You can also do more together in group calls, with real-time screen and photo sharing."
Skype Preview
Skype Preview
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Even with the enhancements, it's difficult to see people receiving the new app any more favourably than the mobile version. Skype's newfound emphasis on socialising with friends met such a hostile reception from users that Microsoft was forced to acknowledge the complaints. The bulk of the negative reviews boil down to one simple truth: people don't need or want another casual messaging service.
This is particularly true in the case of Skype, an app used variably for long-distance family chats, professional business work and simple Internet messaging. Now the design is available on desktops too, Skype's old reputation for reliable versatility looks like it's about to be lost.
If you want to try the app out, you can download it today on Windows 7 and up. The preview can be installed separately of the existing version, letting you use the two side-by-side for now. If you're using the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft recommends you download Skype from the Windows Store instead of continuing to use the desktop app.
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