Microsoft released a beta version of the long-awaited Skype app for Windows Phone today, and we got a chance to test out the application. The app is designed in full Metro style and provides access to the core features of Skype, including calling over 3G, video calling, and dialling landlines / cellphones. Microsoft has only released a beta version for now, but during our testing the application never crashed or experience performance problems normally associated with beta software.

One particular drawback to Microsoft's Skype for Windows Phone is the fact it doesn't appear to run correctly in the background. During our tests Skype calls were diverted to a voicemail function despite us never having paid for or setup this feature. Calls worked well while the app is open, but we found that task switching to another application will end the call, not ideal when Microsoft has implemented background support for apps across Windows Phone 7.5. The video calling feature provides smooth video and audio, but suffers from a forced horizontal layout making it impossible to use in portrait. Nevertheless, this is still a beta copy and Microsoft is promising to deliver the final shipping copy in April.