Microsoft u-turns on new-fangled Skype interface

Written by Hannah McGrath

Microsoft has announced a major u-turn on a number of features from its Skype video calling and messenger service.

The software giant released an update in June 2017 with a number of new design features aimed at users who like to customise their call, photo and messaging in services such as Snapchat.

However, the upgrade attracted criticism from a number of Skype users who missed its emphasis on basic chats, calls and contacts features and pared-down interface. Some users branded the new look “stupid”.

In a blog posted to Skype’s website, Peter Skillman, director of design for Skype and Outlook, said the company had listened to user feedback and would now take steps to remove “underused features that create clutter.”

He explained: “This past year we explored some design changes and heard from customers that we overcomplicated some of our core scenarios. Calling became harder to execute and Highlights didn’t resonate with a majority of users.”

The platform's new user interface will emphasize simplicity and familiarity.

Skillman said the app would introduce “a simple navigation model where there are now just three buttons at the bottom of the mobile app-chats, calls and contacts.”

The ‘Highlights’ and ‘Capture’ features will be removed. Users of ‘Highlights’ have until 30 September to download their history before the feature disappears.

The desktop version of the platform will recall older legacy versions of Skype while producing a navigation model familiar to mobile users.

The colour scheme will also be “toned down” to Skype’s classic blue interface, with some of the “more decorative elements” of the June 2017 version- such as squiggle shapes for notifications- cut altogether.

These additions, Skillman said, “weren’t core to getting things done. The result is a more elegant experience that brings your content to the forefront.”

The new design Skype is available on the latest version (8.29) for Android, iOS, OS X, Linux, Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 operating systems.

Skype, which has become one of the world’s leading video chat communications platforms since it launched in 2003, was bought by Microsoft in 2011.

Skype, used by businesses and individuals, had an estimated 1.33 million registered users worldwide according to data portal Statistista.