Skype 4.0 Beta for Windows Impressions – Brand New User Interface Disaster!

A few days ago, the release of the new Skype 4.0 beta appeared for public consumption. I have been tinkering with this particular post in my WordPress Drafts area for some time now, however after having a few more days experience with the beta, I am actually devastated by the decisions made by the Skype team.

With the latest beta, we get to view the new user interface. If you expected a Vista like sleekness… well forget that notion right away. Skype 4.0 is currently an utter shambles and needs a complete overhaul, although to be honest, I couldn’t find that much wrong with the previous version so why the big upheaval? There are a couple of new interesting features though that do appear. One that allows you to move around and resize the video windows and another to view the different conversations within the same area, removing the need for endless taskbar clutter, but both of these could surely have been achieved within the current version 3 series of Skype.

So what has gone wrong?

Simply Skype looks incredibly bloated and will easily fill up twice as much desktop space compared to before the update with all its needless on-screen information, even when you are not in a call or conversation. When you are indeed conversing with friends and colleagues, you feel an unsettling confusion and a button layout completely different to what we are used to. Even if collapsible options are added in the future, it is still too bulky.

It really does feel like change for the sake of change with very little thought about the competing application designs that are simplifying and trimming down on unnecessary on-screen drivel. Maybe it is too early to get into a beta bashing debate and I am jumping the gun somewhat, but I am incredibly nervous that my favourite communication program is proceeding in a direction that is sure to cause problems.

Although beta versions are always open to new ideas and public releases will often cause an outcry with any vastly changed interface, even days down the line I really hate Skype 4.0 and that is a troubling start to what should be an exciting revamp. My personal advice would be to start again. I really find it hard to find any tangible reason why the current 4.0 user interface should remain, it is really that bad! For goodness sakes get 3.8 Vista’fied, add a few new features and I am sure the community will love you for it. As it stands, prepare for a possible backlash.

James Woodcock

Freelance Journalist, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming and technology.

Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, while also interviewing well known industry figures for popular online publications.

  • Adam Hearn

    Agreed, it looks terrible. Skype don’t have a great record at listening to it’s user base (I guess if the product was paid for directly and they saw a drop in sales they might change that ‘attitude’?).