Microsoft today said that a free Windows 8 and Windows RT Skype app will be ready for downloading from the Windows Store on Friday, Oct. 26.

The long-rumored app -- bloggers have been posting leaked screenshots of Skype for Windows 8 for months -- will also be pre-installed on new PCs and tablets from a slew of first-tier OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).

Devices from Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, LG, MSI, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba will have Skype pre-loaded, a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed today.

Microsoft's own Surface RT tablet will not sport Skype out of the box, however. "It was a matter of not being able to align shipping schedules," the spokeswoman said in an email reply to questions Monday. "Skype will be shipping with Surface in the future."

All Windows 8 and Windows RT users will be able to download the app from the Windows Store free of charge starting Friday, the on-sale date for the new operating systems and the hardware they power.

"This is our big step forward together with Microsoft to introduce a completely new Skype experience, which is designed to be always on, immersive, effortless and fun to use," Mark Gillett, the chief development and operations officer at Skype, said in a blog post today.

Microsoft acquired Skype last year for $8.5 billion.