Skype hit version 6 today, with a rare simultaneous release for both Windows and Mac. This brings a whole bunch of new features to the table, including single sign-on with both Facebook and Microsoft credentials, so that new users don’t even have to sign up for Skype itself, Retina display compatibility for Macs, and multi-window chats, so that you can have conversations going in multiple windows at the same time.
On the Mac side, Skype has been slowly building back up from a significant redesign that struck a lot of users the wrong way, adding a lot of clutter and unnecessary screen real estate occupancy to what was once a very simple app. It’s been getting a lot better, and this update really steps up the game for owners of Apple’s 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, or those hoping to buy the new 13-inch version.
Also new to the Skype desktop app is the ability to chat with Live Messenger, Hotmail and Outlook contacts via Skype just like you’ve been able to do with Facebook contacts for a while now. Eventually, Microsoft will roll out voice and video calls for Microsoft network contacts as well, something it says will arrive “in coming weeks.”
Generally, I’m wary when a big company buys a smaller one with a cool product, but so far, Microsoft has actually been very kind to Skype’s product, and made a number of considerable improvements. Let’s hope Redmond keeps at it.