In an effort to compete with the free Google Hangouts service, Skype is now offering their group video calls for free too.
It’s been a good few years for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service Skype. After being bought in 2011 for over $8 billion (the exact figure was $8.5 billion) by Microsoft who were in turn fighting off competition for the company from Google and Facebook, Skype has only gone on to bigger and better things as people use it as a cheaper alternative to talk to their loved ones, business partners and clients even when they can’t be reached by a traditional phone call. Needless to say, Skype is more than a bit useful and it’s one of the most popular ways of staying in touch with the people you know (or to talk to the people you don’t) available right now on the market. It’s even been featured on the Microsoft-made console the Xbox One, exercising its practicality once more. However, despite its popularity the fact that many of its useful features are stuck behind a pay wall makes it an expensive but handy alternative so it’s good news then that Microsoft have now made group video calls on Skype for desktop and Xbox One free.
Letting you chat with up to 10 other people by group video call, the news of Skype’s new freebie will be fantastic Skype users with lots of colleagues to talk to or large families to keep in touch with, especially for those who haven’t wanted to venture out into Google Hangout territory. In fact, Google Hangouts, it’s being suggested, are a key reason why Microsoft is now offering Skype group video calls for free. Google+ (pronounced Google Plus) has around 100 million active users with G+ accounts required to set up a Google Hangout so with numbers like that it’s easy to see why Skype is doing more of an effort to compete with the search engine giant’s free competitor.
While this decision to take on the market is good, it’s bad news for those who don’t use a Windows or Mac desktop or have an Xbox One. However, Skype’s announcement post also explained that “in the future, we’ll be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms – at no cost” meaning that anyone who is keen to get in on the Skype group chat action via a mobile device may soon be able to do so too. We’ll keep you posted once we know more.