One of the features that made Zoom as popular as it is now in the video calls and video meetings ecosystem is the ability to add virtual backgrounds. You could make a call from the beach, from outer space, or the Starship Enterprise, to name a few. The little things we seek out for some joy in these dark times of the Coronavirus pandemic around the world. Now, Microsoft has fired back with its own take on virtual backgrounds, adding a bunch of these cool views to the latest version of Skype. These are available to all Skype users, after updating the app mind you, on Windows, Mac and Linux devices. The Skype version on the web browser will also get the new cool backgrounds right away.
The ability to enable and select these virtual backgrounds resides in the Audio & Video options in the Settings menu in the Skype app. You can either choose from the bunch of options that Microsoft has added or also upload a custom high-resolution image that you like instead. This is actually cool if the room behind you is slightly cluttered and you need to head into a video meeting soon—laziness doesn’t disappear instantaneously.
Microsoft says Skype, its video chat app for personal and small business use, has seen a significant spike in usage. “Skype has seen an increase in usage, with 40 million people using it daily, up 70 percent month over month and, we are seeing a 220 percent increase in Skype to Skype calling minutes month over month,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President, Modern Life, Search & Devices, Microsoft, while announcing the Microsoft 365 subscription suite. Skype is a part of the new Microsoft 365 subscriptions.
This update comes a bit after Microsoft added virtual backgrounds to the Teams video meetings app. Microsoft have also said that Microsoft Teams, a more powerful chat, video conferencing and collaboration tool for businesses, now has 44 million users. While Skype is meant as a more versatile app for personal as well as professional use, Teams focuses more on enterprises.
That is not all. The updated version of Skype also adds quicker access to call controls in the chat menu and also made it easier to share files if you are using the Skype app on an Apple macOS device. There are some under-the-hood performance and stability improvements as well.