Microsoft has spent most of the last seven years messing around with Skype, integrating it into their existing collaboration tools, such as Skype Busines. It is also constantly tweaking the consumer product, adding social media and other features much to the chagrin of users who just want to use Skype to make voice and video calls.
Peter Skillman, the Director of Design for Skype and Outlook has admitted that some of these efforts have resulted in complexity that has messed up the user experience. So, there will be yet another redesign to simplify Skype.
Skillman said Microsoft heard from customers who said the company had “overcomplicated some of our core scenarios”. Things like calling became harder to execute and other features “didn’t resonate with a majority of users”. That’s driven a need to remove some of these extraneous features and get back to the core functionality.
Dear Lifehacker, my girlfriend travels a lot for work which means our interactions - including romantic and sexual - are often limited to Skype. Unfortunately, the video quality is usually quite poor. Is there a way to improve the video without buying a new laptop or expensive webcam?Read more
In the blog post, Skillman said Microsoft will refocusing on making calls and messaging. This will start with simplified navigation. The mobile app will see the Chats, Calls, and Contacts moving to the bottom of the app and Highlights and Capture getting shunted. The desktop app will get a similar refresh with Chats, Calls, Contacts and Notifications shifted to the top left of the window – an about face that returns Skype to a more familiar look if you’ve been a long term user.
There will also be a refreshed look with a classic colour scheme introduced.
Microsoft was probably stung over the last few years when the social media wave started rolling and they were left in the dust of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and others. But in trying to play catch up, they messed up a product that was easy to use and very effective. Fortunately, they have listened to their users and are undoing some of the damage.