Skype beta comes to Windows Phone

Microsoft’s today – at last – releasing a beta version of Skype for Windows Phone, giving users free audio and video calls over 3G, 4G or Wifi. The full release is due in April.

The beta gives all the features users of other paltforms are used to, including the ability to make low-cost calls to landlines and mobiles using Skype Credit, and create and hold one-to-one and group chats.

The company’s tested and certified the Nokia Lumia 710 and 800, HTC Titan and Radar and the Samsung Focus S and Focus Flash for use with the software. However, it should work with any Windows Phone device.

“I think it’s really important to take advantage of the new technologies and innovations that are happening in the Windows Phone ecosystem and connect them with Skype’s cross-platform communications network,” says Rick Osterloh, vice president of products and design at Skype.

“Now a whole big class of users is unlocked with this application, and it allows for a new form of communication from Windows Phone into the Skype network.”

The app is built around Microsoft’s Metro user interface, meaning it looks quite different to the way it appears on other platforms. It’s centered around two content areas: contacts and messages, where recent calls, IMs, and voice mails will be grouped together.

“Metro is very simple, very easy to use, and very intuitive, and we fully embraced the model. Skype looks great with Metro and delivers a clean and consistent experience on all Windows Phone 7.5 devices,” says Osterloh.

“We look forward to getting feedback on the beta, which offers the core Skype user experience. And of course we’ll keep investing in the full-featured version and working with the Windows Phone team to make sure Skype and Windows Phone work great together on new devices as they come to market.”

Download the beta here.