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What is Skype WiFi on the Microsoft Surface?

No doubt about it, Microsoft creates confusion with its product names. When one of its products takes off, like the Surface, Microsoft stamps that product’s name on its other, less-successful, products. For example, Microsoft’s Outlook, the e-mail program in its Office suite, became a huge success. So, Microsoft created Outlook.com, an online e-mail service that has nothing to do with the original Outlook program.

Microsoft’s Xbox turned into a popular video game console. So, Microsoft renamed its old-and-struggling online music and movie stores with the new terms Xbox Music and Xbox Video.

Similarly, many people know Skype as a way to make computerized phone calls. So, Microsoft created Skype WiFi, a product that has nothing to do with Skype.

Instead, Skype WiFi is a payment system. When you pay up-front for Skype time, Microsoft lets you use that credit to pay for some third-party WiFi hotspots. However, not all Wi-Fi hotspots accept Skype WiFi payments, and the list of those that do constantly changes. Microsoft offers an online map.

If you ever try to log on to a Wi-Fi hotspot and see the words Pay with Skype WiFi, that simply means you can take some of the up-front money you’ve paid for Skype and hand it to the company running that particular Wi-Fi hotspot. There’s one perk: Paying with Skype WiFi credits means you only pay for the minutes you use rather than being billed at longer durations.

Other than that, the two Skype products have nothing in common.

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