Ever since Microsoft bought Skype, we have been waiting for deeper integration of Skype with Microsoft services. That seems to be finally happening, after a year of the high profile acquisition, with the new Skype Beta for Windows.
Download: Skype 5.11 [Beta] [28.5 MB]
New Key Features of Skype Beta
- You can now use your Microsoft account (formerly Live ID) to log into Skype account and receive IM messages from Microsoft services like Live, Hotmail, Outlook.com or Xbox.
- Tighter Facebook Integration: Now you can directly login with your Facebook account without Skype account. You can merge an existing Skype account or create a new one after signing in.
- Link Microsoft and Facebook Account with Skype: A biggie. When you login with your Microsoft or Facebook account, you will be offered to merge your Skype account with it, providing the combined list of friends in a single windows.
- Support for 6 new languages bringing total number of supported languages to 38.
Right now, you can not add or remove Microsoft or Facebook contacts through Skype. You will have to go to the respective sites in order to do that. However Skype has marked it as a known issue and it might be fixed in future builds
Installation and Few issues
While Windows 7 had absolutely no issues at all with the newest beta. I encountered quite a lot of issues with Windows 8 Enterprise RTM Trial 64 bit, on the same machine. I could not log in using either my Microsoft or Facebook account, so it rendered the beta pointless.
Also take into account that the installation will ask to make Bing as the default search engine and MSN as the home page, something which you may or may not want depending on your allegiance towards the Redmond giant :).
Merging Live Messenger and Facebook Contacts with Skype
Now the best way to make use of the new Skype Beta would be to get your Live Messenger, Facebook and Skype contacts under one unified umbrella. Here is a short guide to do it.
Now sign out and login with your Microsoft account. Merge your Microsoft account with Skype.
The beta performed quite well, barring the issue above mentioned affecting Windows 8. Facebook video calling with friends works extremely well despite me having a paltry bandwidth. If you are not a Facebook chat addict then Skype just serves fine for IM messages as well. My only issue being the IM notifications are sent to “Recent” tab, which makes you go through a couple of more clicks to see a new message. Barring this the annoyance, the latest beta works just dandy.
The much awaited integration of the key Microsoft services (Microsoft owns some stake in Facebook in case you did not know) with Skype is finally kicking into action and the latest beta is a firm step forward. Make sure you try it out!