Microsoft is currently deep into development of the Skype Preview app for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). However, the service could be put through another major upheaval soon. A new rumor claims that the company is working on “Skype for Life”. This new service would cover all Skype bases across platforms.
The report comes from Ars Technica, which adds some interesting information about the service. Microsoft's decision to close its Skype office in London could have been influenced by Skype for Life. The outlet claims that Microsoft wants development of the Skype service to be located in its Redmond headquarters.
If true, Skype for Life would be an all-in-one client for Microsoft's VoIP service. It would replace all current versions of Skype across all platforms. The overall goal of this would be to unify the Skype experience across all operating systems. Ars Technica points out that this would be more fluid compared to the current situation:
“Currently, the company has the traditional Windows desktop app; the new Universal Windows Platform app for Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, Xbox, and Skype; the Skype Web client; and a Web-based standalone app for Linux (which apparently also has internal builds that run on Windows, too). Skye also has mobile apps for iOS and Android in addition to a macOS client.
This is an excessive number of clients, and what we're hearing is that Microsoft's solution is to develop yet another client, codenamed “Skype for Life.” This one client will be cross-platform, covering not just Windows but Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android.”
True of False
The obvious question is whether there is any truth in this report. We would suggest that there is, but with some caveats. Ars Technica says that Skype for Life has been given precedent by Microsoft. Other Skype services in development (Skype for Business and Slack competitor Skype Teams) have been put into maintenance mode.
Microsoft has been frequently developing the Skype Preview app for Windows 10. This is the Universal Windows Platform app that will work across the platform in the post-Anniversary Update environment.
The UWP app is the result of Microsoft making a decision to revamp the way in which distributes Skype. For some inexplicable reason the company had chosen to split Skype services into separate applications. The decision to re-unify the services in Skype Preview was applauded by most users. Doing so was a major overhaul of the Skype platform, so would Microsoft be prepared to do it again?
Skype for Life Possibilities
There is a possible scenario. Skype Preview is not the finished product. Indeed, as its name suggests, it is a service that is still in its early stages, despite being available. It is entirely possible that Skype Preview will be Skype for Life. Microsoft could be working on unifying the overall experience for other platforms.
What this means for Skype for Business on Windows 10 is now up for debate. We think the platform needs a Universal Windows Platform Skype for Business client.
There is a spanner in the works for unifying Skype across all platforms. Microsoft recently launched Skype for Linux Alpha. This service is not the same Skype experience you would see on the other major platforms. We have that funny feeling that Skype for Life could mysteriously omit the open source platform.