Microsoft delivered a new Skype beta today, bringing the UI in line with Windows 8’s desktop and adding support for Messenger. The Skype 5.11 Beta also includes a number of other improvements, such as better Facebook integration and support for six new languages, and long-awaited bug fixes.
The layout of Skype’s UI is mostly the same, but everything has been flattened to fit in with the desktop UI changes found on Windows 8. The number of concurrent online users is gone – this feature wasn’t very useful anyway – and it’s now possible to view your past profile pictures for easy swapping. The biggest change, however, is the login screen.
Now, when you login to Skype, you have the option of signing in with your Microsoft or Facebook account, in addition to your traditional Skype account. Signing into one of these will allow you to instantly begin chatting with your friends on either service. The real magic, however, happens when you choose to merge your accounts. Doing so makes it possible to simultaneous chat over Skype, Messenger (formerly Windows Live Messenger / MSN Messenger), and Facebook Chat. The only downside is that Skype doesn’t have any notion of contact linking at this point, so you’ll end up with a different contact for each service.
For a preview of the account setup process, check out the gallery below.