Microsoft has just delivered a new version of the Skype app for Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 that provides photo-sharing capabilities that work even when your contacts are offline. But the interesting bit here is that Phone is for the first time providing new Skype functionality ahead of most other platforms. That's a big change from the way things are normally done with Skype.

"Building great picture sharing capabilities is high on our list of priorities, and we're excited to announce the feature will start rolling out to Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows Phone 8 users for the first time with today's 2.21 update," Microsoft's Lara Kingwell writes in a new post to the Skype Garage & Updates blog. "This will let you send photos to your friends and family, even when they're offline."

Here's what's new:

Send photos. You can now share photos with one or more contacts, assuming they have a Windows Phone 8 or 8.1 handset or an iPhone 5, 5C or 5S. For those using Skype on other platforms, "they may receive a URL link to open the pictures" instead. According to Microsoft, this release is a "first step" and they are working to build the new photo sharing experience into Skype on other platforms over the next few months. Wow, Windows Phone is first in line. Imagine that.

See more conversation history. In chat view, you can now scroll up to load even more of your conversation history.

Text mark-up. You can now use text mark-up like asterisks to make your text *bold* and underscores to make your text _italic_.

Add favorites from chat view. A new Options button in chat view lets you add the contact you're currently chatting with to your favorites.

Performance improvements. Not much to say here, other than every little bit helps.

You can download Skype 2.21 for Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 from the Windows Phone Store.