The application Windows Phone owners have been anticipating for eight months and counting has finally arrived — but it’s nothing to call home about yet.

Skype, as expected, has finally released a beta version of its application for Windows Phone 7. The release includes support for Skype basics such as audio and video calls over 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi, and group messaging.

More importantly, the app finally puts Windows Phone owners on par with their friends on Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry, even if it lacks several key features.

Microsoft acquired the audio and video-conferencing company for $8.5 billion in June (the deal closed in October). At the time, both companies talked up a Windows Phone Skype offering that would be superior to the Skype applications available on other platforms. That day has yet to come — and likely won’t come until the fourth quarter of the year.

For now, the just-released Skype application, which requires Windows Phone 7.5, is very much a beta release. The app lacks support for languages other than English and does not run in the background, meaning you won’t be able to receive incoming calls or chats if Skype is not running in the foreground. A full release, or “gold” version as Skype calls it, is slated to launch in April.

Skype for Windows Phone Beta has been tested for optimal performance on the Nokia Lumia 710 and 800, the HTC Titan and Radar, and the Samsung Focus S and Focus Flash, Skype said.

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