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Skype 6 with improved social integration now available

New versions of Skype for Windows and OS X were released Wednesday by Microsoft. These latest versions add support for signing in through Facebook and Microsoft accounts.

For subscribers to Microsoft's services like Hotmail, Outlook.com, and Windows Live Messenger, the new Skype 6 will allow you to communicate with other subscribers of those services via instant messaging.

For Mac users, the new Skype now allows chatting in multiple windows and support for Apple's Retina display. Mountain Lion users, however, will find that the profile-picture picker doesn't work as well as it does in the Windows version. Recent images can't be seen, and effects can't be applied to the pictures.

Microsoft is also working to allow Windows Live Messenger subscribers to place audio and video calls to one another using Skype. That feature, Microsoft promises, will be available "in coming weeks."

Also for Windows users, the new Skype has been localized for six more languages: Thai, Croatian, Slovenian, Serbian, Catalan, and Slovak. Microsoft has spruced up the user interface for the new Skype for both Windows and iOS users, making it simpler and less cluttered. The look of the instant messaging and SMS areas is also improved, and the online user counter has been removed so that more friends can be seen in the program's contacts window.

Additionally, the new Skype will show you all your previous profile pictures when you change your profile mug shot.

This latest release of Skype for the desktop comes on the heels of the new Skype app for Windows 8. That app appears as a Live Tile on the Windows 8 start screen. Within the tile, you can preview missed calls or new messages and, since the app runs constantly in the background, it will deliver notifications of new calls and messages as they happen.

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