Today’s Windows 11 news is all about Microsoft’s vision for computing in the coming years, but it’s also about how Skype has grown and waned since its $8.5 billion acquisition a decade ago. Skype was the dominant brand in internet calling and video five years ago, so Microsoft built it a “inbox app” for Windows 10 that was installed automatically and started at startup.
Skype was nowhere to be found in the Windows 11 presentation or materials, despite a pandemic year that saw more people using their PCs for voice and video than ever before. Instead, Microsoft Teams gets a prominent position on the new center-aligned taskbar, as well as extensive integration with Windows.
Microsoft’s vision for Skype in the future has come to fruition, but in the meantime, competitors Zoom and FaceTime have become household names. Microsoft nonetheless gave lip service to Skype when it made Teams available for personal users in June, saying, “For those who just want a really purpose-built app, Skype is a terrific answer, and we support and encourage it.”
However, if you want to use Skype, you’ll have to look for it in the Microsoft Store, just like any other program. “Skype is no longer an inbox app for new devices that run Windows 11,” a company official tells The Verge. The Skype program may be downloaded for free from the Microsoft Store.”
When you consider which other apps Windows 11 will offer out of the box, you can understand how far Skype has fallen in the last year; even Windows Terminal will be included. OneNote, Paint 3D, and 3D Viewer are among the apps that will no longer be included with the OS.
Even introducing one-click “Meet Now” options weren’t enough to help Skype compete in the early stages of the pandemic. Regular users choose powerful enterprise-grade chat programs as a result of the sudden rush to go remote, with companies like Microsoft and Google opening their doors to support the trend. Microsoft, like Google, now has a bewildering number of conferencing tools to pick through, and the release of Windows 11 suggests it may trim the fat sooner rather than later.