Microsoft has released a free browser version of Skype called Skype Meetings aimed at small businesses. The first web-based product after the beta release of Skype for Web last year, Skype Meetings will let you video chat with up to 10 people at a time for the first 60 days of use, and then meeting capacity for the free edition is limited to three people.
The new tool includes some of the more powerful collaboration tools included with Skype for Business, such as screen sharing and PowerPoint integration. But the Windows company hopes to attract enough users to the ease of video chatting on Skype that they will want to upgrade to the chat app’s full-featured version, currently $5 a month, or subscribe to an Office 365 plan which includes Skype. The full-featured Skype for Business allows up to 250 participants in an online meeting.
A new version of the Skype for Business for Mac Preview is also now available t beta testers, adding new contacts and presence, IM, peer-to-peer calling, group video calling, and conversation history capabilities Skype for Business for Mac Preview 3 is due later this summer, Microsoft says, and will include telephony and voice features like the ability to dial out to a traditional phone number.
Skype has been facing increased competition from messaging apps such as Viber and WhatsApp while Google continues to offer its Hangouts service free of charge. A new group chat platform called Airtime from Napster co-founder Sean Parker is competing with messaging products like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Snapchat, as well as the video-chat incumbents. AirTime lets people watch videos, view photos and video chat together through integration with YouTube, Spotify and several other services. [24×7]