Skype Group Video Calling Goes Free

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Skype announced on the company's blog that group video calling, previously a feature only available to Premium users, is now free to anyone with a Skype account using Mac OS, Windows, or Xbox One. Skype on other platforms (mostly phones, tablets, and televisions) will get group video calling free “in the future.”

As of now there is no longer a Skype Premium account, the only reason to pay Skype is if you use the voice calling to phone numbers (mobile or landline) subscriptions, currently US $2.99/mo for unlimited US/Canada calls.

At least half the people on this Skype call are smiling. Clearly this is a Photoshopped image.

Screen sharing to a group was another feature of the paid Skype account that is now free. Previously, sharing a screen was limited to one other person, or to paid accounts.

If you expect to hang out online with your friends all day, you may want to think again about using Skype to do it. According to the Group Video Calling Fair Usage Policy, “Group video calls are subject to a fair usage limit of 100 hours per month with no more than 10 hours per day and a limit of 4 hours per individual video call. Once these limits have been reached, the video will switch off and the call will convert to an audio call.”

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As a friend of mine put it, “Skype gets Google Hangouts!” I know loads of people who fled from Skype to Google Hangouts as soon as Hangouts was reliable, even though Hangouts (popular) are tightly integrated with Google Plus (less popular). After the announcement last week about the head of Google Plus leaving Google, I have to wonder what’s going to happen with both G+ and Hangouts, since Google tried so hard to make them one product.

In any case, it’s nice to see some competition in group video calling, before Hangouts there wasn’t really any competition for Skype, and now it seems like Google will have some competition. I’ll make the popcorn.

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Competition is a beautiful thing, particularly when it works in the consumer’s favour.

Now, will Skype offer anything to those of us who paid for those premium accounts, other than that we no longer need to pay? I believe I’ve answered my own question.

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