Microsoft Does U-Turn On Skype Universal App
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 25 March 2016

A while back Microsoft worried a lot of programmers when it killed its Skype "Metro", "Modern" or Windows Universal App and opted for good old Win32. Why should we give up Win32 when Microsoft refuses to. Now it is all on again and Skype Windows Universal App should appear soon.


The saga of Windows new API for apps is a very strange one. Initially Metro apps were to be the way to write apps for Windows 8 and Phone. Then it all fell apart because no one wanted to use Windows 8 and Microsoft had to rethink. 

The whole idea of Metro was reinvented as part of Windows 10 under then name Windows Universal App - a name that emphasizes the fact that this is the API supported by Windows 10 and every device that runs Windows 10. Notice that earlier versions of Windows don't run Windows Universal and this sort of spoils the idea that they are indeed universal. However, this really doesn't matter much because it was, overall, a step in the right direction. 

A small problem is that, to make universal apps more universal, Microsoft needed, and still needs, users to switch to Windows 10 in huge numbers and programmers to write Universal apps. As always this is a chicken and egg problem and many programmers really didn't see the need to write Universal Apps because Win32 works on everything but phones and Windows phone didn't really have much of a market. 




You can now imagine the worry when Microsoft dropped its Skype Universal App in favor of a Win32 desktop app. 

"Starting on July 7, we’re updating PC users of the Windows modern application to the Windows desktop application, and retiring the modern application."

Could it be that the Skype team found it easier to support just the Win32 app for all platforms except phone? 

What the reasoning was still isn't clear, but now a U-turn seems in order. The Skype blog reveals that they have been taking sounding from users and made some discoveries:

"But what we also learned from this feedback is that as the screen size gets bigger—large tablets, 2 in 1s and PCs for example—and you begin to use the apps, expectations shift and people want to limit app clutter. And like that, you once again want an app that lets you do anything you want within the comfort of one window. This is why we are introducing the Skype Universal Windows Platform app."

Things aren't quite as simple as this makes them seem. The two separate apps that worked on Windows phone will remain because it seems that is what users like and the Win32 app will remain for Windows 10 users - so it isn't an entirely clear message from the Skype team. The Universal App will eventually be as full featured as the Win32 app and then more so.

It is interesting, and a little strange, to note that the preview, available to Windows Insiders, will only work on PCs and large tablets i.e. Windows 10 devices and not on phones. What does this mean? Are Universal Apps still too difficult?

One diabolical plan would be to kill the Skype Win32 app and wait for all the Skype users on Windows 7 to notice and have to upgrade to Windows 10. Microsoft wouldn't do that would it? I know I would if it was really important to get everyone to switch to Windows 10.   


More Information

Skype Universal Windows Platform app Preview for Windows 10 is coming to Windows Insiders

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Last Updated ( Friday, 25 March 2016 )