Microsoft hardware products, specifically webcams and headsets, will soon ship with a stamp on the box: “Skype Certified.”
Though Skype is now owned by Microsoft, both Microsoft and Skype want to make it clear that this new certification is not just a cross-promotional marketing ploy, and that the new hardware underwent months of testing from both parties to insure the hardware and software obtain optimal compatibility.
The Skype certification will allow users to make HD calls with the hardware on the Skype client. “Skype Certified ” hardware will be the only type than can accomplish this.
“The essence of certification is for Skype to guide its users to the best hardware that will produce the best Skype experiences,” said Ed Botterill, head of Skype Certification. “This is the first time we’ve been able to guide them to such a big hardware player in Microsoft, whose webcams and headsets will improve the Skype experience for the majority of our user base.”
Though, for cross-promotional marketing ploys, it isn’t a bad strategy. Microsoft plans to sell the new hardware to millions of Skype customers via the Skype Store.
“Microsoft Hardware is looking forward to getting its products exposure to millions of Skype customers via the online Skype store,” said Kurt Wrisley, senior program manager with Microsoft Hardware. “Getting their endorsement on your box is huge. With users making 300 billion minutes of calls annually, Skype is a certified online powerhouse; telling Skype users they’ll get a great experience with Microsoft’s own hardware is a huge win for the company.”
Andrew Juenger, a senior design verification engineer for Microsoft Hardware, helped run the initial tests of the webcams and headsets. Juenger highlighted the role of “Hank,” a green-tinted head and torso simulator (HATS). Hank sits in a sound chamber, dons a headset, and “answers” a Skype call. Engineers then run an audio analysis of the call.
“We have the opportunity to put together the world’s biggest video calling platform with Skype together with industry leaders in Microsoft who have really come on strong in the headset and webcam market. Now that we’re part of the same company, that’s where we really should be able to define future products and quality levels,” said Botterill