Microsoft begins rolling out free Skype group video calling

Microsoft begins rolling out free Skype group video calling

Summary: Microsoft is making Skype group video calling a free, cross-platform feature, starting with the Windows desktop, Mac and Xbox One platforms.

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Microsoft is no longer charging for Skype group video calling.

skypegroupvideo

The company announced on April 28 that Skype group video chat is now free, with no expiration date, on Windows desktop, Mac and Xbox One. Microsoft will add support for other platforms with free Skype group video calling in the future, officials said in a new blog post.

There's no timeframe available from Microsoft as to when group video calling will be available on "Modern" Windows like Windows RT, or Windows Phone, or on Android tablets. Group video calling is not available at all on these platforms; only one-to-one video is. But once it is available on these new platforms, it will be free, with no expiration date, a company spokesperson confirmed.

Here's the fine print, from Microsoft's Skype site:

"Group video calling can be between 3 and 10 people, depending on the device.For best quality, we recommend up to 5 people.A fair usage policy applies. Group video calling is currently available on Windows desktop, Mac and Xbox One platforms, and will be coming soon on other platforms. Skype on Xbox One requires paid Xbox Live Gold membership."

Before today, Skype group video calling required a Premium Skype account, which cost $9.99 per month. Premium support also included group screen sharing, unlimited calls to a specific region and more. Microsoft seems to be reworking what a "Premium" Skype consumer subscription includes. While this happens, Skype calling subscriptions are still available for purchase.

Seems like a good time for Microsoft to get more aggressive against Google+/Hangouts....

Topics: Telcos, Cloud, Collaboration, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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8 comments
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  • At least that's a decent start.

    Skype is still quite limited compared to Hangouts for me. If MS adds more features, may consider using Skype again. Now expand the free voice calling to smartphones please.
    Zig1994
    • Free voice calling?

      I can make free voice calls to smartphones using the Skype client on my phone and my Surface Pro.
      guinness1999
    • Voice calling

      I've had that on my smartphones for years.

      Talk to your carrier, if they are blocking it.
      wright_is
  • At least that's a decent start.

    Skype is still quite limited compared to Hangouts for me. If MS adds more features, may consider using Skype again. Now expand the free voice calling to smartphones please.
    Zig1994
  • Will MS bother marketting Skype to consumers

    Most consumers I know have not heard of Skype being use on Windows Tablets and Phones.
    They use Google Hangouts and Apple FaceTime, as those products are promoted to consumer base.

    Are Microsoft interested in consumers using Skype?
    JulesVerny
    • I use skye and love it

      I don't know about the marketing part but the nice thing about Skype is that it isn't limited to any OS. My family and I abandoned the Apple ecosystem which seems to be all about $$$$$ for all Microsoft phones, tablets and computers. The rest of our relatives and friends still use Apple and Android so to keep in touch we use Skype. We live in Hawaii and they live in various parts of the contiguous US. Even our Vizio TV has Skype and with an external camera can be used to video chat. I've video chatted with friends in Isreal, Thailand & various areas in Europe. No one had to market Skype to me, I already knew it existed and how great it was.
      guinness1999
  • Too generous IMO!!

    We've gladly paid for this. Perhaps they were feeling pressure from G+ Hangouts, but the call quality on Skype made this worth the dough.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
  • Skype is good

    Also been using free Skype for voice calls, IM'ing and the occasional video call for years...text very reliable, voice pretty good, video so-so, but that is due to dodgy internet connections.

    This is good progress.
    DAS01