Skype for Mac has reached version 6.0 and is available to download now in the 'Check for Updates…' menu. Why do you care? The ubiquitous online videoconferencing and chat service now supports third-party services plus user interface updates.
Remember when your Skype username was an important part of your online identity? Well, you can now login using your Facebook credentials and get your friends to appear automatically on the contact list. Of course you can keep using this with the privacy an original Skype account provides you sharing with others only your username.
Since Skype is equivalent to IM for the people who leave the app logged on the whole day, the service is also bulking up on this front. No, this isn't Facebook chat. The new Skype owners Microsoft have decided to add the almost defunct MSN instant messaging protocol there as well. For Mac users this is great news: there's no need to install Messenger or a third-party solution like Adium if you already have Skype up and running. Apparently audio and video calls are coming next so you'll be able to talk to your MSN buddies directly from the Skype app. Come on, this service that saw its peak in the late nineties and early noughties, now it's probably used for Xbox chats.
Aren't you curious to know who's still using the infamous Microsoft MSN Messenger? Bots and spam took over a decade ago
Perhaps as a result of this focus on instant messaging are the changes in the chat window. Finally you can open several windows instead of the unified view that forced you to go back and forth when you had multiple conversations open. This can be toggled in the Preferences pane, General tab and selecting opening conversations in new windows with a double click.
On the visual department, the icon looks slightly more flattened but the user interface is pretty similar to the one in version 5.8. The owners of new MacBooks and MacBook Pros with Retina Display will now enjoy the app at full resolution. I was waiting for a big UI interface revamp in line with the Windows 8 release but this isn't going to happen. I particularly liked the way contacts are displayed using that Metro style without white gaps between pictures.
At least on the Mac version you can customise the default main window to something smaller by removing the column list on the left and displaying the contacts on a list rather than a grid.
Create a new account from scratch
If you're hesitating to merge your old Skype account with your Facebook and old Hotmail or MSN email you can always create a new account and avoid mixing contacts.
One of the thing I particularly value about Skype is privacy — you can give your username to a perfect stranger protecting things like your email or your mobile phone details. This is as long as you don't include those on your profile description, of course!
I'm not very keen on the idea of having a single Skype account for these. What I'm considering is leaving my old one for IM and video conferencing purposes and create a new one with actual credit on it. I always have some British pounds on it to send SMS cheaper that my provider here in the UK, call support and customer service numbers that are very expensive from a mobile number and of course, to place international calls. I've set up the payments with Paypal ages ago and there's never been an issue with it.
If you've read this far you've probably seen the Skype banner on the left of the blog. I'm trying their latest campaign to get new members in, so that's why I'm taking the opportunity to tell you why creating a new Skype account works for me. If you decide to merge your accounts with Facebook, Messenger credentials or both, I encourage you to do so and leaving a small commission that helps to run the blog.