Updated Skype demonstrated that it does indeed exist as a separate entity within Microsoft by bringing SMS functionality to its Insiders a week after something similar was flung out to Windows Insiders.
Trailed a few weeks ago, Skype's SMS Connect has now begun to roll out to lucky owners of Android phones running version 8.3 or higher of the messaging platform. Users must also be enrolled in the Skype Insider programme in order to receive the new toys.
The new functionality allows PC or Mac users to read and reply to 1:1 and group SMS chats, receive MMS content and send new messages from their desktop (or rather, the Skype app on their desktop).
If that all sounds rather familiar, it's because Microsoft emitted nearly identical abilities in the form of the Your Phone app last week to Windows Insiders, except with the almost entirely pointless function of being able to see the last few photos taken by the paired phone. Unlike the Skype incarnation, Your Phone does not support MMS messages, although with the costs inflicted by carriers on users trying to use the service, this is probably no bad thing.
The Register has yet to see the new feature make an appearance on our hardware, but by all accounts it appears to need fewer hoops leapt through than the Your Phone equivalent, requiring only Skype installed on the phone and desktop. The Skype team pointed out that users should carry on with their current SMS app on their phone as SMS Connect is a "desktop only experience".
As ever, iOS users need not apply. Apple is unlikely to allow a direct competitor to its iMessage service into its walled garden any time soon.
There is no indication of when the functionality will become generally available, but judging by past performance, it'll likely be when Your Phone is also complete unless Microsoft's left arm manages to spot what its right arm is doing and perhaps cut back on some of the duplication of effort.
The Register contacted Microsoft to find out what strategy was driving the development of two Android SMS integrations. ®
Updated on 12 September 2018
Microsoft got in touch to let us know: "The Windows Insider Program and Skype Insider Preview were created to enable Microsoft to test different features and functionality, which will influence future versions of Windows and Skype. We regularly test new features and changes to existing features to see what resonates well with our fans.”
So, it's a case of throwing enough, er, stuff against a wall and seeing what sticks. SMS style...