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App of the Week: Skype for Windows Phone (Beta)

Microsoft has finally released Skype for its Windows Phone 7 platform, a move many expected to happen sooner after the software giant purchased Skype last year for a whopping $8.5 billion.

At long last the app is now available on a variety of Windows Phones, with models from Nokia to Samsung to HTC in the compatibility chart. It’s currently classed as a ‘beta’ version, which means it’s not finished yet and Microsoft wants you to accept that there may be some teething issues, which of course it will aim to remedy before the final release.

Nevertheless we’ve tested the app out on several of our handsets and it feels smooth and easy to use, as well as looking great. Not all Windows Phones have a front facing camera for video calling – Nokia’s Lumia 710 and 800 phones, for example – but that doesn’t mean you can’t use Skype for its instant messaging capabilities. Signing in to Skype and loading up a new IM conversation was a doddle, as was starting a new one from our contacts list, which appeared almost instantly.

Skype for Windows Phone feels great, and it’s been designed with the OS in mind. Although it isn’t integrated into the system itself, it shares the style and looks at home. Notifications appear in a small orange circle in the top right corner – unobtrusive and easy on the eye, simply tap to open the chat it’s notifying you about.

Video calls work well through Wi-Fi, which we tested using the HTC TITAN and it’s 1.3-Megapixel front facing camera. We made calls from the phone to PC users and vice versa, as well as from one Windows Phone to another, and everything went without a hitch, which is impressive given the app’s beta status. Microsoft and its Skype team promises to improve on call quality and the app in general going forward, as it announced yesterday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona:

This is only the beginning for Skype for Windows Phone,” said Skype’s Rick Osterloh. “It’s just going to get better and better.

There’s plenty that can be added, improved upon and generally polished with Skype for Windows Phone, and with Microsoft now in charge of the software company, we’re excited to see what’s in store. We envision tight integration with Windows Phone in the future – perhaps the option to Skype call a contact from within the OS’s Contacts app – and added Facebook integration too. What would you like to see from Skype for Windows Phone?

We know some of you are having trouble finding the Skype app within the Windows Phone Marketplace, especially those in European regions. You can download the app by following this link on your Windows Phone:  zune://navigate/?phoneappID=c3f8e570-68b3-4d6a-bdbb-c0a3f4360a51

This link should open up the page to download Skype from the Marketplace app on your phone, voila!

Already tried Skype for Windows Phone? Let us know your thoughts on our comments below or via our @Gadget_Helpline Twitter page or Official Facebook group.

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