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For Windows 8, Skype gets a full makeover

The popular VoIP and video-calling software, with apps for both mobile and desktop devices, announced today its plans for full Windows 8 integration.

Skype for Windows 8
The Skype live tile in Windows 8 will show the latest calls or messages, and notifications are shown in the upper right. Microsoft

Acquired by Microsoft in October 2011, Skype has been hard at work for several months integrating the communication software with the latest version of Windows. Today the company announced that Skype for Windows 8 will be available Friday and on new Windows 8 devices; you can download it from the Windows store.

Skype has received a complete makeover, with features that take advantage of both the Windows 8 Start menu and the use of a touch screen. You'll be able to log in using any of your Microsoft accounts (such as Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive, Windows Phone, Xbox Live, Skype, or, and then connect a Skype ID to that account if you're already a Skype user.

Skype for Windows 8
On the Skype home screen, your most recent conversations are on the left with favorites and people lists on the right. Microsoft

Skype's redesigned interface integrates seamlessly with the Windows 8 People app, so you can start a conversation directly from where you keep all your contacts. You also have the option to setup push notifications through Skype's live tile on the Windows 8 Start menu, and you can have the app run in the background so you'll always be able to see the most recent messages and calls -- even from the lock screen. This always-on functionality is new to this latest version of Skype. Though Skype has been updated to integrate with the new Windows 8 interface design, the desktop version will still be available for use on the Windows 8 desktop app.

When you open the Skype app directly from the Start Menu, the interface is laid out with recent conversations on the left and your favorites and people lists on the right. When you start a conversation, you have on screen buttons to quickly switch from chat to video or audio calls. The app uses the Windows 8 command bar menu, letting you swipe down from the top of the screen to switch between all your active conversations. The app also takes advantage of the Snap feature in Windows 8, so you can carry on a video or IM conversation on one part of the screen and continue working in another app.