October 22, 2012, 4:45 PM — Microsoft today said that a free Windows 8 and Windows RT Skype app will be ready for downloading from the Windows Store on Friday, Oct. 26.
The long-rumored app -- bloggers have been posting leaked screenshots of Skype for Windows 8 for months -- will also be pre-installed on new PCs and tablets from a slew of first-tier OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).
Devices from Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, LG, MSI, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba will have Skype pre-loaded, a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed today.
Microsoft's own Surface RT tablet will not sport Skype out of the box, however. "It was a matter of not being able to align shipping schedules," the spokeswoman said in an email reply to questions Monday. "Skype will be shipping with Surface in the future."
All Windows 8 and Windows RT users will be able to download the app from the Windows Store free of charge starting Friday, the on-sale date for the new operating systems and the hardware they power.
"This is our big step forward together with Microsoft to introduce a completely new Skype experience, which is designed to be always on, immersive, effortless and fun to use," Mark Gillett, the chief development and operations officer at Skype, said in a blog post today.
Microsoft acquired Skype last year for $8.5 billion.
The app, written for the user interface (UI) once dubbed "Metro" but now alternately labeled "Modern" and "Windows 8 style" by Microsoft, features that UI's minimalist design; supports "Snap," which lets users run two apps side-by-side; coordinates with Windows' new "People" app; and can run in full-screen mode.
Microsoft's Surface RT tablet has a pair of cameras -- one forward-facing for video conferencing, one on the back of the device.
Previously, Microsoft has pledged to continue development of Skype on non-Windows platforms, but Gillett did not elaborate on any plans to revamp, say, the OS X, iOS or Android editions.
The company has made other Skype-related announcements recently, including a promise to include a credit of 60 minutes per month for international calling with its Office-by-subscription plans for consumers, Office 365 Home Premium.