How to send SMS messages using Skype on phone or PC

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We've been reporting on the various updates and incarnations of Skype (Preview) UWP over 2016 (e.g. here) and it seems as if Microsoft is finally ready to 'call it' in terms of recommending it as its all-purpose messaging application for the masses, i.e. everyone on 'production' Windows 10 Mobile. Yes, enthusiasts have been doing this for a while, but I was interested to see the brief official tutorial appear on the Windows blog this week.

It's true that Microsoft has flip-flopped a few times in recent years about how to handle SMS, most infamously last year (2015) when they tried to build Skype IM into Messaging. Clearly the idea was to have something that competes with the likes of Apple's iMessage, seamlessly blending in SMS with Internet-borne chat messages and attachments. Microsoft has succeeded, but it's not clear how much traction it will get in a world where people hear 'iMessage', 'Facebook Messenger' and 'Whatsapp' and think of one thing, and then hear 'Skype' and immediately think of video calling their grandparents.

So there's clearly work to be done at Microsoft's end in terms of educating its half a billion Windows 10 users about what they can do with Skype.

Anyway, here's part of the official post I'm referring to:

The Skype team is excited to bring a new feature to our Skype Preview for Windows 10 users, SMS relay. This feature allows Windows 10 Mobile users to send and receive SMS and MMS messages directly from a Windows 10 PC. You can view and respond to SMS and MMS messages from your PC, no need to reach for your phone.

To get started, you will need to make Skype the default messaging app. On a Windows phone, launch Skype Preview, go to settings and select “Make Skype your default messaging app.”; and on a Windows PC, launch Skype Preview, go to settings and select “Enable Skype on this device to sync my SMS messages.” You can always turn this off by going back to settings.

send SMS messages using Skype on Windows 10 devices

Create Conversation

Once you’ve changed your settings, it’s easy to create a one-to-one SMS or group MMS chat. Just tap on the + button on the Recent list to start a new conversation. Add the people you want to chat with and Skype will select the type of conversation based on the participants’ contact information to ensure that everyone gets the message. If there are multiple ways to reach everyone, you will get an option to switch from Skype to SMS.

send SMS messages using Skype on Windows 10 devices

Switch between Skype & SMS

You can also switch a conversation from Skype to SMS and vice versa. You will need to have both the Skype name and phone numbers stored in a contact’s profile to do this.

In the 1:1 chat, you’ll see a line above the chat area which says “Via”. From here you can select Send Via Skype or SMS. If that contact has multiple numbers, you’ll see the first mobile number in this list. If you want to select a different number, click on the gear.

To be honest, albeit a little late in the day, Microsoft's Skype team has done a pretty good job. My main concerns are around performance - the Skype Preview UWP app could definitely do with some optimisation. I realise that, behind the scenes, there are some clever client/server comms going on, but the interface needs to start up faster and be snappier, especially given that 90% of content is purely text based.

To learn more more about this latest update to Skype preview, check out the Skype garage blog.

As to why the application still has the 'Preview' tag in its name, see here.

Source / Credit: Windows blog