The Skype application which will bring VoIP calls to Windows Phone has finally entered the beta testing phase this week, which could mean that its full release is drawing near.
While Skype has been a feature of other smartphone platforms, including iOS and Android, for some time, it has been notably absent from Microsoft's flagship Windows Phone operating system.
This is particularly poignant since Microsoft purchased Skype outright for a tidy sum of around £5.4 billion and so it is in control of the company and its future products.
As with many Windows Phone applications, the Skype app has been specifically developed to fit in with the look and feel of the Metro user interface (UI), so it should be easy to use, as well as easy on the eye.
VoIP calls can be made from the Skype app over Wi-Fi and 3G, as well as 4G, although for UK users this last feature is still something of an irrelevance.
The application can also be used to send instant messages to your Skype contacts and inbound messages will even pop up during a call, so you can essentially hold two conversations at the same time without neglecting either party.
Interestingly, the Skype app will not be quite as effective on some Windows Phone handsets as it is on others, with the likes of the Nokia Lumia 800 and the HTC Titan being singled out as mobiles on which the service will be best experienced. This is presumably due to the fact that these phones feature secondary front-facing cameras, which will enable users to make video calls as well as voice calls via Skype.
After the app has passed through its beta testing phase over the next few weeks, Microsoft will officially launch the full consumer edition in April, according to a report from CNET.
In a statement, the software giant said that Skype's integration into Windows Phone would continue to improve over the coming months and years, which means we could start to see it included as a native feature on future handsets. This might invoke the chagrin of network providers, since it will bypass their own voice services, although putting the emphasis on mobile data usage will still allow them to make money out of their users.
All that is needed now is 4G networking to arrive in the UK, so that the mobile VoIP revolution can truly begin.
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