Skype has teamed up with five of the UK's biggest high street names – Asda, Currys, PC World, Sainsburys' and WHSmith – to offer Skype Prepaid Cards in the gift card sections of their stores.
Skype Prepaid Cards are a new way for users in the UK to purchase Skype credit and add premium features to their free voice-over-IP (VoIP) service.
The cards will be available in £10 and £20 denominations and can be redeemed online at skype.com against paid features such as calls to mobiles and landlines, text messages, multi-person video calls, and connections to WiFi hotspots.
With calling rates to mobiles and landlines starting from 1.6 pence per minute (including VAT) Skype credit could also come in handy for anyone who is planning international travel as well as for small and medium-sized businesses.
According to Enrico Noseda, head of market development for the EMEA region at Skype, this is a significant new direction in Skype's retail strategy.
“We see Skype Prepaid Cards as yet another option for users to get more out of the Skype experience, either as a way to add Skype Credit to their account or as a perfect gift for friends and family to allow them to keep in touch more easily,” he said.
The cards will soon be available to purchase at more than 1,400 stores throughout the UK – including 400 Sainsbury's stores and Asda 200 stores.
The news comes just a week after the launch of Windows 8. Microsoft, which bought Skype in 2011, has integrated the VoIP application into both the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 operating systems so that it interacts with the People app, where contact information is stored and managed.
The Skype tile that appears on the Windows 8 Start screen is live and displays the most recent missed calls and pending messages.