If there’s one thing Microsoft does extremely well, it’s reacting with alarming sluggishness to what its users want and what its competitors already offer. True to form, the tech giant announced today that it has begun testing on “Private Conversations,” a new feature for Skype that will offer end-to-end encryption of private chats for users.
The move was long-overdue – though Skype has few competitors in the video chat space, many users prefer to use other platforms such as WhatsApp (end-to-end encrypted since April 2016), Signal (February 2014) or Facebook Messenger (October 2016) to ensure encryption of their private messages.
Skype does already offer a form of encryption that protects the communication channel itself; however, the larger risk for many users is that without end-to-end encryption, their private conversations are only as secure as the server on which they’re stored.
Private Conversations will initially only be available to users running the Skype Insider version of the application; depending on its success, however, it is likely that a wider release will occur in the near future. One early drawback noted by many is that end-to-end encryption in Private Conversations is not automatically turned on – as with Facebook Messenger, users will be required to opt in to take advantage of the additional security features.
If successfully executed, Private Conversations could potentially be Microsoft’s key to disrupting Apple’s dominance; Skype could supplant iMessage and FaceTime as the preferred method of choice for communication, particularly between iPhone and Android owners.
On the other hand, this is also the company who brought us Clippy, so that’s far from a sure thing.
[via The Verge]