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Microsoft launches Skype for Web beta

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Microsoft’s focus will always be Windows and Windows-branded things, like Windows Phone, but the company also has plenty of assets that can find a good home on other platforms across the board. Like Skype.

Not everyone wants to download software to use something, and for anyone who has avoided using Skype because of the app that needs to be downloaded to a computer, Microsoft has those folks covered with the new Skype for Web beta. As it stands right now, Microsoft’s not quite opening the flood gates just yet, as the Skype for Web beta will only be available for a limited number of people right from the start. Microsoft does plan to roll out to a wider audience in the coming months.

It works courtesy of Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) APIs, which allow users to make real-time voice calls, send real-time voice messages and instant messages right from a Web browser. That means that Apple’s Safari browser is also supported from the start. The Skype Team has confirmed that at some point in the near future a plug-in won’t be needed to be downloaded, but right now a small plug-in is needed to get the show up-and-running:

“Once you’ve signed in on Skype.com, you can start instant messaging friends straight away. Making great quality voice or video calls is just as easy; simply press the call button to connect. As you may have read in the last few weeks, Skype and our friends at Internet Explorer are starting to implement the technology to make Real-Time Communications (RTC) on the web a reality, but for now, before your first call, you’ll need to install a small plug-in to start your conversation. In the future, using Skype on the web will become even easier and convenient. Imagine you wanted to meet your child’s teacher, or conduct an online interview with a potential candidate -you’ll be able to chat over Skype directly from a browser in just a click. With web RTC, there won’t be any downloads or installs – you can just get straight to your conversation.“

Skype for Web will be available from Skype.com, and users will simply log into the site using their Skype credentials. Once signed in, users will be able to send messages to other Skype users, make calls, and activate video calls. For Safari users, Skype does note that using Skype for Web does seem to drain a bit more battery while in use, so keep that in mind.

It’s a big step to opening up Skype availability, especially for those who don’t want to use the app or are on the go and can’t access the app for whatever reason. With its multi-platform support, Skype for Web looks to be a big player for Microsoft moving forward.

Do you use Skype at all?

[via Skype]

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