Skype for Web (beta) is now available to try without an invite, providing you’re in the US or the UK that is.
The browser-based version of Skype allows users to make voice and video calls without needing to install the main Skype desktop app. It works in Internet Explorer and Google Chrome on Windows or Safari on Mac OS X.
But the WebRTC plugin that handles the VoIP side of things is not yet available for Chrome OS or Linux.
It’s not all bad though; Skype’s instant messaging feature should (at some point) work on a Chromebook as it doesn’t require a plugin to function.
So why web and why now? Microsoft say they’re doing it “because the hundreds of millions of people […] told us they want to call and IM when they visit our website.”
“We know how critical it is for you to get to your conversations — and Skype for Web helps you get connected anytime.”
How to Try Skype Web in Google Chrome
To try Skype for Web beta right now, in Chrome you need to be either the US or UK and have (or be willing to sign up for) a Skype account.
Then just dart over to web.skype.com in a new tab and sign in with your Skype login. Quick-ity-boo, you’ll be ready to send and receive instant messages with your Skype buddies.
To make a voice or video call you will need to install a plugin (you’ll be prompted to do this after signing in) but, as mentioned earlier, the plugin is only available for Windows and Mac OS X users.
Microsoft has also uploaded a ‘Skype Calling’ extension to the Chrome Web Store and will, on Windows, ask you to install it. It’s not instantly clear what this add-ons does but its permissions set implies it does more than let you click phone numbers online.
Let us know what you think
I’m not a heavy Skype user so I can’t attest to the quality of calls and video versus the standard desktop app. It works, which given the beta tag is pretty much all to be expected for now.
The service is available from today in the US and UK. Access for other countries is to roll out over the coming weeks.
If you try it out let us know what you think.