Microsoft has started making available a beta of Skype that will run in Web browsers.
Microsoft's Skype for Web beta, announced on November 14, is aimed at users who want and need to use Skype without downloading the Skype app. The new version will work on Windows with IE 10 or above, the latest versions of Chrome or Firefox and on a Mac with Safari 6 or above.
Currently, users need to install a small plug-in in order to start a Skype conversation, but in the future, once Microsoft implements Web RTC (Real-Time Communications), no downloads or installs at all will be needed.
Since it currently requires a plug-in, the Skype for Web beta cannot work on Chromebooks, but once Web RTC is baked in, Skype for Web will work on Chromebooks, a company spokesperson confirmed.
Update: Actually, the situation is a bit more nuanced re: Chromebooks. The spokesperson provided the following update:
"Chromebook owners can use Skype for Web for IM, but the plug-in required for voice and video calls hasn't been configured for that device so it isn't currently supported."
According to a Skype blog post about the new beta, there are currently some battery-consumption issues with Skype for Web on a Mac. And outgoing Skype calls can take longer than normal to ring. But those are known issues.