Latest Skype beta bolsters video conferencing for SMBs

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Skype is hoping to attract more business users with its latest beta, by incorporating group video calling.

The 5.0 beta enables users to have up to five people on the call simultaneously and, as a free offering, could be very attractive to small an medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as a video conferencing tool.

The Skype blog admitted that as a beta, there are "some rough edges" that need to be sorted out and highlighted the fact it only runs on Windows although no longer on Windows 2000 so far may let down some users.

However, rumblings on the internet suggest a Mac version is on its way and will be released later in the year.

Bob Tarzey, analyst and director of Quocirca, told IT PRO the new service will be great for SMBs but added: "Why stop there?"

"Conference calling is great for communicating between groups within and between businesses [and] this applies for SMBs and enterprise alike. [Also] a common tool is needed to drive conversations between an enterprise retailers and it SMB suppliers."

Tarzey pointed out that many similar services are already available.

"Skype is late to market and, as has been the problem in the past, it will be hard to monetise. Most existing offerings rely on either the services being paid for by one of the participants or each participant paying for the call on their bill and the conference call supplier taking a margin."

Click here to download the new beta.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.