Microsoft starts killing Skype Classic today, but two versions of Skype remain. Windows 10 includes a “Store App” version of Skype, which has fewer features than Skype for desktop, available for download from Microsoft’s website.
Yes, There Are Two Skype Apps
There are two versions of Skype for Windows:
- “Skype for Windows 10” is included with Windows 10. It comes from the Windows Store. It’s a UWP app, which means it has various limitations, unlike old desktop apps. This is called a “Trusted Microsoft Store App” in the Start menu, and it has a Windows 10-style tile icon.
- “Skype for Windows” is available for download from Microsoft’s Skype website. If you have Skype Classic installed, it will automatically install this version of Skype on your system soon. It has extra features, as it doesn’t have to deal with the limitations of the UWP sandbox. This is called a “Desktop App” in the Start menu, and it has the traditional Skype bubble icon.
Here’s where it gets confusing: Both Skype apps are based on the new Skype 8 code, and they’re very similar. But the downloadable version has more features. You can install both on your system at the same time, and you can even run them both at once, side by side.
How to Download Skype from Microsoft’s Website
Microsoft really hides this download, too! To find it, you have to head to the Skype download web page.
The normal “Get Skype for Windows 10” option downloads the Store version of Skype 8. To get the desktop version of Skype 8, you have to click the down arrow next to the download button and select “Get Skype for Windows” beneath the various Linux download options.
What’s the Difference?
At first glance, these apps look the same. They’re both based on Skype 8, so that makes sense. But, dig a little deeper, and you’ll notice differences.
For example, the desktop version of Skype offers more options. Under Settings > General, the desktop version of Skype lets you automatically start Skype at boot and keep it running in your notification area, also known as your system tray. The Store version of Skype does not have these options.
The desktop version also offers Cortana features here. You can enable Cortana-suggested replies, emoticons, and actions in Skype. You can also choose whether or not you want this Cortana experienced personalized. The Store version of Skype doesn’t include these options for some reason.
If you’re upgrading from Skype Classic, the desktop version of Skype 8 can import your chat history. There’s also an “Export chat history from Skype 7.x” option under Settings > Messaging so you can export that old chat history to a file on your computer if you want to keep it. But this option only exists on Skype for desktop.
The Settings > Messaging screen also offers an option that lets you control your conversation text size, but only on Skype for desktop for some reason.
Only the desktop version of Skype 8 supports DirectShow camera device inputs, which are needed for applications like Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and Xsplit.
The Store version only supports camera inputs using the newer “Microsoft Media Foundation” platform. So, if the Store version can’t find a camera input device you need, try downloading Skype for desktop. (The traditional desktop version supports both types of inputs.)
Skype for desktop also supports NDI, while Skype from the Store does not appear to have this option. This is a professional feature that can take video from a networked camera and use it as a video source in Skype, or even route a prerecorded video to a Skype call. This option is available at Settings > Calling > Advanced in Skype for desktop.
You can tell the difference between the two from the Settings > Help & Feedback screen. The Store app will list both a Skype version and an Application version. The desktop app will just list a Skype version number.
When we wrote this, the version of Skype for desktop was slightly newer than the version of Skype available through the Store, so perhaps Microsoft also updates the desktop version more frequently.
Updates for the Store version are automatically installed via the Store app on Windows 10, while updates to the desktop version are delivered in the traditional Windows desktop way. You can head to Settings > Help & Feedback in the desktop version to see if a new version is available, and Skype will automatically notify you and prompt you to install new versions when they’re available.
Skype 8 is now the same pretty much everywhere, from Windows 7 to macOS to Linux. There’s even a preview version of Skype for Web that matches the design now. Microsoft is getting rid of the last Skype 7 users and moving everyone to the new version.
Should You Bother Downloading the Desktop Version?
Should you even care that the desktop version has more features? Well, maybe not. If you don’t use any of these features, then perhaps the Store app version of Skype is fine for you.
But, if you do want more supported video sources, export for your saved messages, a Skype icon for your notification area the ability to launch Skype at startup, and text size options, you’ll need to get Skype for desktop from Microsoft’s website.
We do wish Microsoft did a better job of explaining the differences between the two Skype applications. We didn’t find any official documentation about this, so we just had to dig through the two Skype applications to discover the differences.