Today’s Windows 11 news is all about where Microsoft sees computing going over the next few years, but it’s just as much the story of how Skype has flourished and ebbed since its $8.5 billion acquisition a decade ago. Five years ago, Skype was the big name in internet calling and video, and Microsoft made it an “inbox app” for Windows 10 that was included at installation and launched at startup by default.
Now, after a pandemic year that has had more people using their PCs for voice and video than ever before, Skype was nowhere to be seen in the Windows 11 presentation or materials. Instead, Microsoft Teams gets a highlight spot in the new center-aligned taskbar and deep integration into Windows.
The future vision that Microsoft had for Skype everywhere has turned into a reality — but that reality made competitors Zoom and FaceTime into household names instead. Back in June, when Microsoft made Teams available for personal accounts, the company still paid lip service to Skype, saying, “For folks that just want a very purpose-built app, Skype is a great solution, and we support it and encourage it.”
But now, if you want to use Skype, you’re going to have to go find it in the Microsoft Store like any other app. A company spokesperson tells The Verge: “Skype is no longer an inbox app for new devices that run Windows 11. The Skype app is available to download through the Microsoft Store for free.”
You can see just how precipitously Skype has fallen over the last year when you consider which other apps Windows 11 will include out of the box; even Windows Terminal will be a pack-in. Skype joins OneNote, Paint 3D, and 3D Viewer as the apps that will no longer come with the OS.
Even adding one-click “Meet Now” features couldn’t help Skype compete early in the pandemic. The sudden push to go remote saw regular users choose powerful enterprise-grade chat apps, with giants like Microsoft and Google opening their doors to encourage the trend. Now, just like Google, Microsoft has a complicated array of conferencing tools to sort out, and Windows 11’s launch suggests it’ll cut the fat sooner rather than later.