Microsoft retreats from Metro, to retire Skype app next month

Microsoft plans to retire the Modern app for Skype in less than four weeks, abandoning it for the more traditional desktop version.

Microsoft today said it would retire the Modern, née Metro, app for Skype in less than four weeks, abandoning it for the more traditional Windows desktop application.

"We're simplifying your PC experience down to one app that you can use either with your mouse and keyboard or with touch," said Aga Guzik, the lead for desktop product marketing at Luxembourg-based Skype, Microsoft's instant message, audio and video chat service. "Starting on July 7, we're updating PC users of the Windows modern application to the Windows desktop application, and retiring the modern application."

As of July 7, any user of the Modern Skype app will be automatically redirected to the desktop edition download. Customers who bought a Surface or Surface 2 tablet -- the discontinued devices that ran the failed Windows RT operating system -- can continue to use the Modern app. Windows RT does not support Win32 desktop applications.

Not surprisingly, Guzik spun the change as good for customers. "With the upcoming release of Windows 10 for PCs, it makes sense to use the Skype application optimized for mouse and keyboards use, capable of doing touch as well rather than two separate applications performing the same function," she said.

The move, however, is a surrender of sorts for Microsoft: The company had pinned hope on its Metro/Modern app model, which was a major part of its pitch for 2012's Windows 8 and the next year's Windows 8.1.

Although Windows 10 supports Modern apps, the upgrade -- slated to ship July 29 -- has deemphasized them and retreated from the bimodal user interface (UI) of Windows 8/8.1, restoring much of Windows 7's Start menu and letting Modern apps run on the legacy desktop.

The only way Microsoft could support all its Windows editions, including the dominant Windows 7 -- which accounted for 63% of all copies of Windows used to go online last month -- was with a desktop application, as pre-Windows 8 SKUs (stock-keeping units) can't run Modern apps.

Microsoft launched the Modern/Metro Skype on Oct. 26, 2012, the same day it released Windows 8 to the public.

Windows users can get a jump on the July deadline by downloading the desktop app from Microsoft's website.

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