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Skype receives post-Prism boost with confirmation of pre-installation on Microsoft Windows 8.1

Microsoft has confirmed that Skype will be integrated into the Start button on Windows 8.1.

"With Windows 8.1, simply log in and you're ready to go," Skype said in a blog post. "By simply searching and adding contacts to your People list in Skype – the people you care about are at your fingertips, and you are in control of who those contacts are."

In its own blog post, Microsoft said that "connecting and sharing should be a seamless part of every Windows experience."

On Windows 8, Skype users have to download the VoIP app via the Windows Store. With the Windows 8.1 update - expected in mid-October - it will come pre-loaded with the operating system.

The updated OS will also include the return of the Start button, which will appear whenever you move your mouse to the bottom right of the screen in tiled (or "Metro") mode and will persist on the taskbar when in desktop mode.

In a recent leak of a reportedly "near final" version of Windows 8.1, The Verge found that Skype replaced the Messaging app, which draws on Windows Live Messenger. Earlier this year, however, Microsoft started transitioning Windows Live Messenger users to Skype. "We're confident that Skype provides a better experience and even stronger network – today and even more so in the future, especially with the addition of the Messenger network," Microsoft said last year.

The move to add Skype to Windows 8.1 is part of Redmond's "One Microsoft" effort, which is intended to provide a unified experience across all services.

"With our apps and services that come with Windows 8.1, we bring to life the things that matter most to you," Microsoft said. "Connecting with your family when you're on the road, preserving and sharing the memories, getting what needs to be done – fast and efficient, and providing an experience for some serious fun along the way."

The company has promised more details about this connected experience in the coming months.

Skype received heavy criticism after it became embroiled in the Prism spying scandal uncovered by whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier this year, so its automatic inclusion within Windows 8.1 could raise a few security-savvy eyebrows.