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Microsoft admits Skype is complicated, announces simplified features

Any user of Skype knows exactly how frustrating the communication software is. Apparently, so does its maker. Microsoft has announced that its bringing updates to its chat product in order to simplify the user experience.

“Our passion for bringing people closer together through simple, seamless experiences that ‘just work’ is the foundation of Skype”, says Peter Skillman, the company’s director of design.

Wherever this “foundation” went, it was certainly not on Skype itself. Skillman admitted that design changes were “explored” this year, specifically relating to calling and highlights.

It was this that convinced Microsoft that it needed to simplify the voice, video and chat service. Now, three elements will be tweaked in order to fit Microsoft’s vision.

Skype’s mobile experience will now feature “three buttons at the bottom of the app”. These buttons will help users navigate through chats, calls and contacts.

“Our new navigation model removes redundant and underused features that create clutter,” Skillman notes. The Highlights and Capture features will be removed, providing a “cleaner and more efficient user interface”.

On the desktop version, the buttons move to the top left.

Microsoft believes that the above changes will make it easier to find contacts on the service too. Though Skillman admits that this is not a widely used feature, “those who do use it find it a ‘critical’ and ‘safety’ mechanism” for finding people.

skype updated ui 2

Finally, some aesthetic improvements are also set to arrive.

Featuring light and dark themes, the chat app’s new UI will be “toned down” and reintroduce “a simplified Skype ‘Classic’ blue theme”. This will too feature both light and dark versions, similar to Microsoft’s other apps.

The UI tweak comes after Microsoft’s mission to offer a lighter version of Skype for Android users in March.

“The new design is available on the latest Skype version (8.29) for Android, iOS, OS X, Linux, Windows 7, 8 & 8.1 operating systems,” Microsoft concludes. It’s not clear why Windows 10 isn’t listed.

Feature image: Microsoft/Skype

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