All in the Family: Microsoft Hardware Gets ‘Skype-Certified’ Stamp
March 06, 2012
Skype has certified Microsoft Hardware’s HD webcams and USB Microsoft headsets, aiming to provide millions of Skype users with an improved experience and deepening Skype’s integration across the company.
The LifeCam Studio and all other Microsoft HD webcams are now certified to provide an optimal Skype experience, including HD quality video calls.
The LifeCam Studio and all other Microsoft HD webcams are now certified to provide an optimal Skype experience, including HD quality video calls.
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REDMOND, Wash. — March 6, 2012 — Microsoft Hardware products will soon ship with a bright blue stamp on the box: “Skype Certified.”

Skype has certified all Microsoft HD webcams and USB Microsoft headsets, the company announced today in a blog post.That seal of approval – granted after months of testing by engineers at Skype – means users are guaranteed to have an optimal Skype experience, including HD quality video calls.

The announcement is a milestone for Skype’s millions of monthly connected users and a big step in its integration into the Microsoft family, said Ed Botterill, head of Skype Certification.

“The essence of certification is for Skype to guide its users to the best hardware that will produce the best Skype experiences,” he said. “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.”

The newly certified hardware marks the beginning of a partnership to “push the envelope of great hardware experiences,” he said.

The LifeChat LX-3000 and all other USB Microsoft headsets are also now certified to provide an optimal Skype experience.
The LifeChat LX-3000 and all other USB Microsoft headsets are also now certified to provide an optimal Skype experience.
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Meanwhile, 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,” he said. 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, he said.

Botterill describes Skype’s certification team as a bunch of passionate audio-visual engineers, and in Microsoft Hardware they found kindred spirits. One of them was Andrew Juenger, a senior design verification engineer for Microsoft Hardware who helped run the initial tests of the webcams and headsets. Like their counterparts at Skype, Juenger and his colleagues spend their workdays putting products through stringent testing to ensure customers get a quality experience. Even the inanimate team members get in on the action; 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.

‘Hank,’ a green-tinted head and torso simulator (HATS), plays a key role in Microsoft Hardware testing.
‘Hank,’ a green-tinted head and torso simulator (HATS), plays a key role in Microsoft Hardware testing.
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As a scientist, Juenger talks passionately about audio fidelity and video acuity. But he said the core of his work is about delivering users a great experience. He noted that Skype certification means users of Microsoft’s webcams will be able to make HD calls enabled with the Skype client – something that’s possible only with the Skype-certified stamp. “At the end of the day, all the work is about ensuring a good user experience on Microsoft’s products,” he said.

That passion around delivering quality experiences will drive both Microsoft Hardware and Skype moving forward, Botterill said.

“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,” he said. “Now that we’re part of the same company, that’s where we really should be able to define future products and quality levels.”

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