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Windows Phone 8 gets Skype preview

Skype has released an early, preview version of its VoIP app for Windows Phone 8.

"In this Preview, you'll get all of the Skype basics in the new, modern design along with many of the new features such as integration with the People Hub and a combined contact list with buddies from Windows Live Messenger," Skype said in a blog post.

Skype will work just like phone calls - you'll be able to call anyone any time, and receive calls just as if they were ordinary phone calls.

The app won't quite be running in the background, Microsoft said recently.

"Since Microsoft owns Skype, Skype calls and messages will send an alert from Microsoft's servers to Windows Phones, waking up Skype on those phones when necessary," he wrote. "That will make Skype more reliable than it is on iOS and Android, where the OSes sometimes shut down the app when they need free memory. It'll also make Skype much more battery-efficient than on Android, where it needs to lurk in the background to capture incoming requests."

Skype also touted the app's ease of use: "Start a chat with your Skype contacts right from the People Hub and keep up with new messages as they come through with Live Tiles. We've set out to bring Skype to Windows Phone 8 with a clean, beautiful and modern interface."

Skype stressed that the "experiences are not yet final." The company noted that some capabilities (call reliability, ability to receive call and message notifications outside of the app) are still in the works, and may not function consistently.

Skype for Windows Phone 8 is currently available for free download from the Windows Phone store. It will require a smartphone running the latest Windows Phone operating system, which includes the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC 8X.