Skype Messaging Anywhere Promises Sleek SMS and Messaging Integration

Microsoft’s second text message syncing service competes with Cortana and iMessage 

On Thursday, September 15th, Microsoft reintroduced its Messaging Everywhere feature as part of its Skype messaging service. This function was integrated into the Windows 10 Messaging app on several Insider Builds over the summer but was eventually dropped in favor of baking it into Skype. Dona Sarkar of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft stated in a blog post that “The experience was well-received by Insiders however we believe we can deliver an even better experience through the Skype app.”

SMS relay, as I stated in my very first article for D&theJM, is an integral part of a complete ecosystem; being able to respond to instant messages and texts on any of your devices is both useful and futuristic. As mentioned in that article, a chunk of Apple’s success can be attributed to the seamlessness of its iMessage service. Introduced in 2012, this cross-platform functionality greatly bolstered the allure of the iOS and macOS ecosystems and, at the time, their synergy offered more value than Windows and Android solutions.

“The synergy of the iOS and macOS ecosystems offered more value than Windows and Android.”

The Messaging Anywhere feature now built into Skype attempts to duplicate this recipe for success. Its hurdles are numerous: the requirement of a Skype account, shaky confidence in the platform, and an alternative solution from Microsoft itself: Cortana.

Redmond’s digital assistant is able to view and send text messages on a Windows Phone or Android smartphone with Cortana installed. The separation of the Cortana and Skype teams at Microsoft may explain why the corporation offers two solutions, but that doesn’t change the fact that Cortana renders Messaging Anywhere redundant. 

It requires a Microsoft Account in much the same way that Skype and iMessage need you to log in (and unlike WhatsApp and Google’s new Allo). In return for signing in or creating an account, the user is rewarded with a solid alternative to Apple iMessage. Cortana's SMS functionality is stable and only requires the installation of a single app (or none if your are a Windows Phone user) due to the assistant's bundling with Windows 10.

In  contrast, Messaging Anywhere is in beta (you need a Windows 10 Insider Build to use this Skype Preview feature) so it is too soon to say whether or not it will be compelling. Regardless, it faces stiff competition from both Apple and another product under the Microsoft umbrella. After four years, a true iMessage competitor has been a long time coming.