Skype is the most popular free voice-over IP and instant messaging service globally. It allows users to text, video and voice call over the internet. Users can also call landlines and mobiles at competitive rates using Skype credit, premium accounts and subscriptions. Skype uses P2P technology to connect users on a multitude of platforms including desktop, mobile and tablet. The call quality (depending on your internet signal) and additional features like conversation history, conference calling and secure file transfer are excellent. There have been some criticisms over the programs bandwidth usage and security vulnerabilities.
New & Mac FeaturesThe UI has been refined to improve compatibility with OS X Mavericks and minor audio bugs have also been addressed on the Mac platform. Skype's new contacts list can be integrated with your Mac address book, making searching for contacts much easier. Renaming contacts means you no longer need to search by skype name. Video conferencing is free for up to 10 participants and is also much easier now with the simple call window where you add/remove participants and avoid the distractions of other contacts and conversations that are minimized into the corner of the interface. Microsoft's influence can be seen with the integration of Microsoft Live accounts and the ability to sync those contacts into Skype. Facebook integrations are starting to creep into the newest versions of Skype too.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed Skype, you will need to create a user profile and unique Skype name. You can then search for other users in the Skype directory or call them directly using their Skype name. Voice chat comes with conference calling, secure file transfer and a highly secure end to end encryption. Video chat is available on higher bandwidth connections and makes keeping up with distant family/friends much more interactive. Video conferencing and the Screenshare features make Skype popular with the corporate market. Skype’s text chat client features group chat, chat history, message editing and emoticons. Skype also enables calls to landlines and mobiles using a premium paid service.
Easy to Use
Skype’s UI is very intuitive and easy to use. All the classic messaging service features like profiles, online status, contacts and recent history are displayed in the left navigation. Here you will also find the Skype directory, group options, a search box and premium calling buttons. The right side (main window) opens the content you select. For individual contacts you will see a text message box, chat history and calling options.
On fast internet connections Skype call quality is excellent for both voice and video calls. The hybrid peer-to-peer client server system means the sound quality is better than most VoIP services. That being said, if you do have a slower internet connection, voice calls may be interrupted or delayed. Video calls will be intermittent and pixelated. Text chat will only be affected by very poor connections. The call quality button will give you detailed information on the expected call quality for each of your contacts (as the quality depends on both parties internet connection).
If you’re looking for a reliable and easy to use VoIP client, you’ll find it hard to beat Skype. Microsoft’s purchase of Skype in 2011 has further stabilized the platform and accelerated development as Microsoft used Skype to replace its aging messaging service Windows Live Messenger. Click on the green download button to give it a try.
Microsoft no longer allows hosting of their installers. So we are redirecting to their download page.