During the Windows Phone Summit in San Francisco, Microsoft officially announced that Windows Phone 8 will be receiving some pretty deep Skype/VoIP integration baked into the OS. As we know, the Skype experience on Windows Phone today is pretty janky; not only does it have a fair bit of bugs — though to address some of these bugs, Skype announced an update for their existing Windows Phone app today — but you also cannot leave a Skype call running in the background, impeding your ability to multitask on your phone.
Today’s announcement has revealed that the exact opposite will be true on Windows Phone 8. Not only will you be able to place VoIP calls while sidelining the apps to the background, but you may even begin to mistake Skype calls for regular phone calls. They’re going to be blurring the lines between regular calls placed over cellular networks and calls placed over VoIP: Incoming VoIP calls will look and feel just like regular cellular calls, VoIP will be integrated with built-in phone features (such as the People Hub and the actual phone dialer), and people will even be able to use certain phone features like call waiting.
And, with that in mind, it’s important to remember that Skype will still be an app that you can download. This close relationship between VoIP and the OS isn’t just restricted to Skype, and developers will be able to build their own VoIP-related apps that take advantage of similar tight integration. In fact, while speaking to The Verge, Microsoft’s Greg Sullivan joked that if Apple made a FaceTime app for Windows Phone, it would actually be better integrated with Windows Phone than it is on iOS.
That being said, Microsoft didn’t share much about how the Skype/VoIP experience will improve on Windows Phone 7.8. Skype’s inability to run in the background during a call is a limitation imposed by the OS itself, as Rafael Rivera explained in this in-depth post. As you can see, they’d have to make some fairly major changes to the way Windows Phone handles multitasking to get it working. They’ve obviously solved the issue with Windows Phone 8, but can they do so with ease on Windows Phone 7.8?