Microsoft fixes flaws in Skype Meetings App

Microsoft announced upgrades to the Skype Meetings App to ease installation and setup. The vendor plans to eliminate the Mac version of the product in favor of the desktop app.

Microsoft has updated the browser app for joining Skype for Business meetings, even as it prepares to phase out the product for Mac users. The changes include better troubleshooting controls and new audio settings.

The Skype Meetings App is what people use to join online meetings if they don't have the Skype for Business desktop app. Attempting to enter a Skype for Business meeting through a web browser prompts users to download and install the app.

Many businesses rely on the Skype Meetings App when working with external collaborators who don't use Skype for Business. The app downloads in one click and should take less than a minute to install, but glitches can delay the start of meetings.

Microsoft changed its user interface to help people figure out what went wrong if the app doesn't download properly, providing direct links to attempt to install the app a second time or try to join the meeting again.

Microsoft also reconfigured its software to recognize when users have uninstalled the app and are attempting to install it again. Previously, those users would receive misleading messages, because the cookies stored in their web browser indicated the app had already been installed.

Another problem Microsoft intends to fix causes the app to sometimes play meeting audio by default through devices or apps that aren't typically what people use for meeting audio. As a result, users assume the audio isn't working.

Microsoft said it would roll out the updates over the next two months. Some will require users to reinstall the app.

Microsoft to retire Skype Meetings App for Mac users

In early December, Mac users will no longer have the option of installing the Skype Meetings App when joining a meeting through a web browser. Instead, those users will be prompted to download the desktop app.

To that end, the Skype for Business desktop app for Mac now lets users join meetings as a guest. The update means external collaborators will be able to use the desktop app even if their organization doesn't use Skype for Business.

The desktop app takes up to 20 seconds longer to download than the Skype Meetings App, but the audio, video and screen-sharing capabilities are more reliable, according to Microsoft. However, the desktop app for Mac does not support in-meeting whiteboards, polls, Q&As or file sharing. 

In August, Microsoft announced a slew of new features and bug fixes for Mac users running Skype for Business on premises. The updates narrowed the gap between the Mac and Windows clients, although analysts said the two user interfaces were already nearly on par.

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