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Microsoft Updates Skype Client for Windows 8, Android

Microsoft was busy on Tuesday, as the company's Skype division released new clients for both Windows 8 and Android. The former release wasn't quite as visually dramatic as the latter, adding a small number of new features while improving the overall video call performance and implementing general bug fixes.

According to the release notes, the new Skype for Windows 8 app will let users call Messenger contacts. The new feature arrives after Microsoft confirmed earlier this month that the Live Messenger service will be retired in 1Q13 after serving loyal users since 1999. Microsoft made the first step towards its retirement in a recent release of Skype 6.0 for Mac and Windows which placed Messenger connectivity alongside Facebook's own chat service within the popular blue VoIP client.

"Our goal remains to deliver the best communications experience for everyone, everywhere," said Tony Bates, president of the Skype division at Microsoft. "We want to focus our efforts on making things simpler for our users while continuously improving the overall experience. We will work with you over the next few months to help you transition and offer information and help along the way."

Skype for Windows 8 already had Messenger connectivity prior to this latest update, but now users can actually call their Messenger friends. They can also search for people and groups more easily than before, as the service is now better integrated with the Windows 8 People app alongside LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and others.

In addition to the updated Windows 8 client, Microsoft also upgraded the Android client to v3.0. This version has been optimized to scale to a tablet's bigger screen so that Skype feels more native to the larger display rather than appear as a smartphone app blown up to fill the screen.

"From now on you can share the moment, a photo or a smile on the most popular Android tablets including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, the Google Nexus 7, Acer Iconia, Asus Transformer Prime, Motorola Xoom and Sony S," the company said. "And with our redesigned look and feel, Skype looks great no matter what screen size you have - either on a smaller Android phone or the more spacious display of your tablet."

The new Android app also now supports the SILK wideband audio codec which was designed to "capture the richness of human speech." Microsoft said the tech copes well with fluctuating Internet speeds to ensure that the audio is consistent and the best it can offer, even with a shaky connection.

"We're excited about these enhancements which are added to the long list of things you can already do on Skype including video calling, sending and receiving instant messages,sharing pictures, videos and files with anyone on your contact list, and making calls to mobiles and landlines worldwide at the amazingly low Skype rates," Microsoft said.

Skype for Android 3.0 can be downloaded from Google Play here.


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