My phone and my PC have complete sections dedicated to messaging applications. I use WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Slack and more to keep in touch with people. Occasionally I also use Discord, SMS messages and even Twitter messages because the people I know are on many different platforms. But something caught my attention recently, almost everyone with whom I contact anyone of these services also has a Skype account. And yet, almost none of us use it to send us messages. Apple users have a perfect experience with iMessage and FaceTime. But I found myself jumping from one application to another every day for years on Windows because nobody can agree on what service to use.
Every person who has a Microsoft account technically has a Skype account. And hundreds of millions of people have used Skype at least once or twice to make a video call, so, interestingly, most people rarely use Skype. I switched to Skype for my main messaging application while on vacation to see how it works as an all-in-one communication application. I was pleasantly surprised. I have been critical of Skype in the past, including some of the design features of the application. But the current state of the application is impressive and provides something that I can't get with any other messaging service: a complete communication experience available on all the platforms I use.
6 things Microsoft should do to fix Skype (or at least improve it)
Communicating from everywhere
The reason I was inspired to switch to Skype was my search to find a single application that would allow me Communicate through text, voice and video from all my favorite platforms. I didn't want to jump between multiple applications when chatting with the same person. I used Telegram for a long time and I think it's an excellent service, but its lack of video calls made it fall short for my vacation away from my wife and my dogs. Skype has undergone many design changes, not all were well received. But the current Skype status is easy to use and works well for chatting, calling and making video calls.
Skype also offers one of the best Windows 10 experiences among popular messaging applications. WhatsApp requires synchronization through your phone and lacks many essential features of the application. Facebook Messenger has a Windows 10 application, so it is something, but it is clearly a port and lacks the features and polishing of native UWP applications. Telegram has its own Windows application and an excellent third-party application in Unigram, so it offers an excellent Windows 10 experience. Generally, it would not accredit a platform for a third-party application, it's not as if Google should get credit for myTube, but the creators of Telegram actively promote third-party applications and provide code that helps developers, so I think the credit is deserved.
The most important features of a messaging application vary from one user to another, but the chart below details the most important features for me, as well as the availability of each service.
|Category||Facebook Messenger  Telegram||Skype|
|Voice calls  Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes  Video calls||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Group calls||Yes||Yes  No||Yes|
|iOS Application||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes  Android application||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Windows 10 application||Yes||Yes||Yes (Windows application + Unigram)||Yes  Xbox application||No||No||Yes (Unigram)||Yes|
|Web version||Yes (via synchronization with the phone)||Yes  Yes||Yes|
|Actionable notifications  Only on iOS and Android||Only on iOS and Android||Yes (Unigram for Windows 10)||Yes|
For functions that more I'm interested, Skype is the only service that verifies all the boxes. It is one of only two messaging services that supports text, voice, video and group calls while having native applications on all major platforms. Facebook Messenger also works well, although I don't think your Windows 10 application is very good.
Skype has handled almost everything I've done in my tests. I chat with my wife all day, send photos and videos of my vacation, a video call or a call every day, and share files and my screen to help coordinate things while they are crossing the pond. It has been nice to be able to jump between different forms of communication without changing applications and eliminates many inconveniences when looking at stories.
Hello? There is someone there?
You probably noticed that my test is mainly with my wife. That's because Skype's biggest weakness is that almost nobody I talk to uses it to chat. On several occasions, I had a job interview on Skype and got a job, then I immediately switched to a different platform to talk to the same person. That is a fairly regular occurrence for Skype in my experience. Most people have it and will use it if specifically requested, but it is not the platform of choice. It used to be the default value for video calls and still is to some extent, but in general, it is not the de facto communication experience.
So, here I am, asking my parents to switch to Skype for our family group to chat because it works well on all our devices. My dad has an iPhone, my mom has a Galaxy 10e, we all have Windows 10 PCs and both homes have an Xbox One. That makes Skype an excellent platform for our family, but is it worth recruiting my friends, classmates? of team and colleagues for Skype? I don't plan on converting the football team that coaches Skype, although I'm willing to bet that 90 percent of them technically have a Skype account. Most people have chosen their platform of choice and will keep it.
Skype is in a unique situation. It is a service for which hundreds of millions of people have an account that is often overlooked for competitors such as WhatsApp and Facebook. As a communication platform, I think Skype offers the best experience for Windows 10 users from popular messaging services. It has applications almost everywhere, supports all kinds of communication, is free and easy to use, and has a good Windows 10 application. But I don't expect it to become the main messaging application for many people.
It's almost sad to switch to Skype. I think that if Microsoft had marketed Skype differently and solved its problems a few years ago, it could have been the default web-based communication application through Facebook and WhatsApp. But solutions and improvements are probably too late, and people should not have to beg or convert their family and friends to an application to get a good experience.
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