Despite the announcement of a consumer version of Teams, Microsoft recently said it doesn’t plan to phase out Skype anytime soon, especially in light of increased usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company says it will keep adding features to Skype, and true to its word, it is currently rolling out Skype version 8.60, which is one of the more significant updates the service has seen recently.
The new version should be available soon for all platforms where Skype is supported, and most of the new features are also supported on every platform. There’s a single exception, and that’s the newly-added support for viewing nine video call participants on screen at the same time. Microsoft brought this feature to Teams first, and it lets users view a 3×3 grid of video feeds from each of the people on the call. This feature is, as you’d expect, exclusive to desktop versions of the app.
Another major new feature in this release is support for moderated groups, and the name is fairly self-explanatory. It lets you create a group where select users can be administrators, helping you control the flow of the conversation. In these groups, only administrators can start calls, for example. If you had a previously-created group chat with assigned roles, it will automatically become a moderated group.
Other changes include the ability to customize the list of message reactions, so they appear in the order you prefer. There are also new keyboard hotkeys that let you take certain actions in Skype even when the window is minimized or not in focus, and of course, the usual fixes and stability improvements. Skype 8.60 started rolling out last week, but Microsoft only published the changelog today, so you may have noticed these features before, or you might not see them yet. Everyone should be able to see them eventually.