Skype launches group video calling
Saturday 15 May 2010 | By Heidi Scott, Gosh! Media Copywriter
Free voice and two-way video calling provider Skype announced on Thursday that it has launched a group video calling service. Currently a beta version - which means that users might see a few rough edges and the software might not work perfectly every time - the Skype 5.0 beta for Windows is now available as a free download at www.skype.com.
In a post on the company's blog on Thursday, Skype explained its ideas on potential uses for the new version:
"Today we're offering you a preview of our brand new version of Skype, which supports group video calling for up to 5 people. With the latest version, you'll be able to bring the whole family together for a chat, for lunch, or even for a birthday. You'll be able to spend quality time with your best friends, planning a trip, or even hosting a book club. And you'll be able to meet with colleagues from across the world without leaving your desk."
For group calls to work, everyone in the group will need to be running the new version of Skype. The company is asking for feedback on the new system and plans to release an updated official version later in the year. In its blog, Skype points to some limitations of the beta:
"To get the best experience possible, you'll need a fast, uncongested Internet connection and a reasonably new computer, but we've developed group video calling to work on a wide variety of connection types and hardware."
Of course, Skype isn't the first company to bring group video conferencing to the table. Free-service Skype competitor VoxOx supports video calls for up to three and the 'freemium' provider ooVoo offers the service for up to six.
Skype's new group video calling
image courtesy of skype.com
Mac users should not get excited - there is no Mac version as yet and Skype says only that this will follow "later in the year". Needless to say, the comments section following Skype's blog post is littered with snide remarks from disgruntled Mac users!
And if you are a PC user and like what you experience with the free download, you shouldn't get too excited either - it's not going to be free forever. Skype's blog post states:
"Group video calling is just one in a set of new premium features you'll see us roll out during 2010. We haven't set prices for these premium features yet, but rest assured that we're still absolutely committed to bringing you free voice and two-way video calling."