The back and forth between Microsoft and Facebook in the messaging arena is interesting. Skype has nailed down many enterprise features and become a go-to for organizations, whereas Facebook-owned WhatsApp has nailed down consumers. Both companies want a piece of the others pie, and Slack can be added to the mix too.
In an announcement today, Microsoft confirmed a new feature that allows users to see when a message has been read by the recipient. Anyone who uses WhatsApp will know that this has been available on that service from the start.
It’s a love it or hate it ability. On the one hand, in important correspondence it lets you know that the recipient has got your message. However, it also tells you if someone is ignoring you. For example, I have an unread WhatsApp message from weeks ago… I get the hint.
Wherever you stand on this feature, I would argue it is essential and its about time it was added to Skype. In terms of implementation, Skype is differing from WhatsApp, but moving closer to another Facebook service.
In WhatsApp, read messages are denoted by check marks. Two greyed check marks means the message has been received, while two blue check marks mean it has been read. On Facebook Messenger, a blue circle denotes when a message is read.
Microsoft is aiming to go a step further and appeal to the enterprise customers who generally flock to Skype. When a message is read, contact heads pop up under the message. This is probably a valuable tool for group meetings as it tells you which of the group have seen the message or not.
Some people don’t necessarily want to read all messages they receive, for numerous reasons. For those users, it is possible to turn of the ability to send off read receipts to contacts.
As for availability, the new feature is currently rolling out to Skype Preview insiders through version 8.26.76 on Android and iOS. In terms of desktop the read receipts are in preview on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
Interestingly, the feature is not available on the new Windows 10 version of the service Microsoft introduced last week.