Attention iPhone owners: Microsoft wants YOU

A collection of screenshots from Skype conversations. Credit: alaistaras via Flickr

Preview program it's pitching may be connected to blending of Lync with Skype this year

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Microsoft today pitched a preview of a new Skype client to iPhone and iPad owners, asking for volunteers to test the software.

The call for testers may be part of Microsoft's decision to change the name of its corporate messaging platform -- Lync -- to Skype later this year as it blends aspects of both in the next generation of its enterprise software, which will be called Skype for Business.

"We're looking for enthusiastic Skype users who are interested in providing feedback that will shape and enhance Skype for iOS to join our new pre-release program," wrote a Skype product marketing manager on her team's blog Wednesday.

Long-time Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet first reported on the Skype beta.

Interested Skype users must complete a short survey asking for demographic information -- typical of a beta program -- and accept a multi-paragraph terms and conditions agreement that, among other things, demands secrecy.

"Starting on the day of disclosure and continuing for five years you may not disclose confidential information to third parties," the terms stated. "You may disclose confidential information only to your employees and consultants who need to know the information and you will remain responsible for their unauthorized use or disclosure."

Participants must also be willing to regularly provide feedback and attend one or more 60-min. "feedback sessions." The latter were not described in detail in the terms and conditions.

Those terms and conditions repeatedly refer to both Skype and Lync, hinting that the preview program may be related not only to consumer versions of Skype on iOS, but also to the upcoming Skype for Business. "You agree to give feedback about the Skype software and Microsoft Lync software to Microsoft in connection with the program," the terms read.

Survey participants are also required to provide an employer's name and the firm's business category, and list what iPads they own. Apple's tablets are popular in the workplace.

In November, Microsoft announced that it would rebrand Lync as Skype for Business in 2015, and issue new back-end server software as well as new client software, including mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

Skype for Business will include some elements of the consumer-Skype user interface (UI) and expand Lync-Skype interoperability. Skype for Business customers will be able to reach Skype users not only for instant messaging chats and audio calls, but also for video calls.

To register for a slot in the Skype preview program, iOS users should start here.

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