Microsoft opened up the Skype for Web Beta to everyone in the US and the UK last week — now it has rolled the service out to the rest of world.
“We’ve been hard at work and are pleased to announce that Skype for Web (Beta) is now available worldwide,” the Skype team say in a blog post.
‘Chromebooks can now use IM features, but can’t make calls’
Skype for Web brings all of the VoIP service’s popular features to the browsers, supporting video and voice calls, send instant messaging and file sending, all without the need to download a desktop app.
The expansion of the beta brings good news for Chromebook and Linux users too. Both platforms are now “allowed in” and can use the Skype for Web (Beta) website for instant messaging.
You need to be running Chrome on Windows (or Safari on Mac OS X) to make and receive voice and video calls through your browser. This is because the WebRTC plugin it requires is not (currently) available outside of these platforms.
Microsoft has not intimated when or if the plugin will be made available for Chromebooks.
How Well Does It Work?
I’ve spent some time trying the beta out and it works well. Calls are crisp and video streams at a decent clip.
Skype is a popular service and people like using it. It’s just not reasonable (barely feasible) to expect everyone you know to switch to a different service just to speak to you, so seeing it widen access online is a really welcome move by Microsoft.
‘That Skype for Web exists shows how forward thinking Google were in making a cloud-centric OS’
And now that Chromebooks can join in the fun using the IM feature it should prove even more valuable, especially for those who like to stay in touch no matter where they are or what they’re doing.
Try It, It’s Free
The limited functionality on offer to Chromebook users may leave a little bitter taste. But if one takes an objective step back the fact that Skype for Web even exists underlines how forward-thinking Google was in building an OS built around cloud-centric services (and just how far Microsoft has evolved under the leadership of Satya Nadella).
To try the service out for yourself just hop, skip and jump to the Skype for Web website, sign-in with your Skype or Microsoft Account details and you should be good to go.