Microsoft announced last week that it's dropping the Metro Skype app. And I couldn't be happier.
If you've got Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you probably experienced this lovely deal where you had two Skype clients — I mean two completely different versions of Skype.
Oh my God, how much did that suck?
You install Windows 8 or 8.1 and go "Hey Skype is included as an app. That's cool."
Then you hit it and it's Metro, a full screen app, which is useless. It's not what anybody wants, except for like three people who use it on small tablets. It's terrible.
So then you had to go out to Skype.com and find the Skype desktop application, because that's what you really thought you were clicking in the first place.
Then you install it and now you had two different Skype links. It was a terrible deal. So now Microsoft is killing the metro-style app and going exclusively to the desktop app.
I'm usually in favor of choice. But this was horribly confusing because the one nobody wanted was already installed. That version was the default one.
I also had a hell of a time figuring out how to shut off the notifications for that thing. I normally use the Skype desktop client, but on a couple of my tablets I mistakenly and regrettably clicked the Skype Metro app, so then the dumb thing ran and I logged in.
And now somewhere in the bowels of Windows this thing is running, and if I don't mute my tablets, if somebody Skypes me, I hear all these chirps going off from all these Skype clients.
So I'm glad to see that thing go.
Skype for Metro, the Metro Skype will be nothing but a bad memory … something we'll tell our kids about when they're naughty to try and scare them, things like that.
Dare I Discuss Windows Phone?
Another great thing: Microsoft just announced a new build of Windows 10 for Windows Phone.
Those of you like myself, who are running the Windows 10 preview on a device, know Windows 10 has some rough spots as well as some really great things. I love, love, love the settings at the top.
I hit expand then I can get a customized list of more links. I love that.
The other thing is if you're at the list of your tiles at the bottom there's an "all apps" thing. You can click that.
So there's a bunch of great stuff that come with Windows 10. But there are a few things that make it kind of rough and I'm anxious to see the new build.
I'll be putting it on my phone so I can see if it's better for me.
You can get it by downloading the Windows Insider app for Windows phone. Then you have to sign into the app and say, "Yes, truly I really want to get these things."
After that, when you run Windows update you'll be able to get the new version of Windows Phone 10. So I'm pretty excited about that, I think it's going to be a good thing.
As I've said before, the email situation is what makes Windows phone 10 unusable for me right now. I can't have multiple tiles for my multiple email accounts, and just because of the way that I work — I'm not saying it's a bad idea in general and I'm not saying it's a bad idea for everyone — but for the way I happen to use my email, it doesn't work for me.
So I'm sticking with Windows 8.1 on my daily driver. But I'm curious. I'm glad I have this backup phone. You can get the Nokia Lumia 635 for like $50. There's no contract, and it actually doesn't have a SIM in it.
I just use Wi-Fi with it, but I've got Windows 10 on it so I can play with it and see what's going on.
I'm very excited to download the new build and see what improvements have been made.
I've been running Windows 10 desktop in preview on multiple devices for many months, and it's been really solid. So I like how things are going.
Microsoft also announced Azure Active Directory Connect will hit general availability this month. AD Connect is Microsoft's identity synchronization software.
So before, with AD Connect, you could run DirSync, you could run (Active Directory Federation Services) ADFS, depending on your identity needs. But getting them set up was kind of tricky. They're not completely user-friendly.
AD Connect kind of wraps around both of those solutions, so it's kind of wizard driven. The thing the Microsoft marketing folks like to say is that if you need DirSync it's four clicks with AD Connect.
It's not exactly four clicks, but it's pretty close. But with this, AD Connect makes it really easy to get your on-premises AD or parts of your on-premises ID synced up to Azure AD for Office 365. Great stuff.
For us IT pros, the last couple of years have been scary with the cloud. And this is a great opportunity for us to figure out where our home is now. This is one of the skills we're going to have to have.
Identity is super important for hybrid and there's all kinds of things coming down the pipe.
And There's More
31:13 Ok, a fun PowerShell thing: What if you map to the profile directory ($env:userprofile) instead of the username ($env:username)?
Title image by Nathan Siemers.