Microsoft unexpectedly ships a new version of Skype for Linux

Here's a surprise! After years of neglect, Microsoft ships a new major version of Skype, the popular VoIP program, for Linux.

Out of the blue Microsoft delivers a new major version of Skype for Linux.

Out of the blue, Microsoft delivers a new major version of Skype for Linux.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. The last thing I expected was to see a new version of Skype, the popular Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) program, arrive for Linux. But, just in time for Skype's new in-your-face advertising program, Skype 4.0 for Linux has arrived.

According to Microsoft, there are four major changes in this Skype release. These are:

    A new Conversations View where users can easily track all of their chats in a unified window. If you prefer the old view can disable this in the Chat options; We have a brand new Call View; Improved call audio quality Improving video call quality and support for more cameras.

In addition, there are numerous minor improvements. These include:

    Improved chat synchronization new presence and emoticon icons the ability to store and view phone numbers in a Skype contact's profile much lower chance Skype for Linux will crash or freeze chat history loading is now much faster support for two new languages: Czech and Norwegian.

Microsoft also warns “the very first time you start Skype for Linux 4.0 might take a few minutes (depending on how lengthy your chat history is). In the event, as I've started to tinker with the new Skype, Skype on Linux Mint 13 on my Lenovo ThinkPad T520 took less than a 30-seconds.

Formally, the new Skype for Linux is available for the 32 and 64-bit versions of Ubuntu 10.04 and Debian 6.0 and the 32-bit versions of Fedora 16 and openSUSE 12.1 . From my own experience I can also say that it will work on later versions of Ubuntu and related Linux distributions. The overall requirements are minimal: Qt 4.6.0, D-Bus 1.0.0, libasound2 1.0.18 with both PulseAudio 1.0 and BlueZ 4.0.0 being optional. Without a source code option, though, you're much stuck with the Debian/Ubuntu, Red Hat, and SUSE Linux families.

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