Editor’s Note:Â This is a cross-post of an article that was posted on Skype Journal.
With the rollout of the new 4.0 version of Skype for Windows, Skype has completely redesigned the user interface of the popular internet telephony and instant messaging platform. Skype has long had a user experience that is very familiar “instant messenger” look and feel, not all that different form other IM clients such as AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo Messenger.
Redesigned For Usability
In an interview with Mike Bartlett, Director of Windows Product Management for Skype, he told me the new version of Skype was re-built from the ground up to enhance ease-of-use with regards to interacting with your contacts and getting Skype set up to use your microphone and webcam.
Skype version 4 uses a fresh user experience, incorporating more of a conversational point of view. When loading Skype 4.0 for the first time, users might be shocked to be greeted with a client that takes up much more screen real estate than before. The new Skype version is tailored around those who hold open multiple IM conversations, calls, video calls, and file transfers in one horizontally arranged tabbed window. Before this new user experience was integrated into Skype, users were required to manage multiple windows for each open conversation.
Have Your Conversation Your Way
The new Conversation Tabs is aimed at make it easy to manage multiple conversation and IM streams in a single window. By separating the open conversations away in a separate tab than your contact list, Skype has made it very easy to track open communications, whether they are IM conversations, voice calls or video calls. Of course, if you don’t like the Conversations view, you can switch to Compact view that will separate each active contact into it’s own window, much like the classic Skype client versions.
As you can see in the screenshot, video calling is a major component of the new user interface. A prominently placed video call button is present when conducting an IM conversation. Also, another very useful feature: conversations with new unread messages or actions will flash orange to draw your attention to the new messages, whether they are from an individual or in a group chat.
Also, with a single click on a Skype contact, you reveal the various options. These options before were hidden behind the right-click context menu, as Skype was centered around voice communications in prior versions. The new version helps bring to life the various contact options that have always been available.
While Skype 4.0 on Windows took a while to get used to, I see the usefulness in the conversational views and refreshed user experience. In fact, I recently went back to a computer that is running an older 3.0 version of Skype and missed the conversational changes in 4.0 Also, being able to see freshly updated conversation items as they happen makes conversation tracking easier.
This post is written by Skype Journal columnist Jason Harris, an internet telephony writer and enthusiast. To follow him further, read his blog. You can also contact him on Skype as harrisja or at: +1 503 334 2574.