Skype 4.0 is upon us
By: Richard Brewer-Hay
Skype for Windows 4.0 launched earlier today allowing users around the world to enjoy full-screen video calling with the click of a button. Voice and video calls are still free among Skype users, with very low rates for calls to SMS, instant messaging and calls to mobile devices and landlines worldwide.
“Skype continues to innovate and improve the voice and video calling experience,” said Mike Bartlett, director of product strategy for Skype. “Over the past two years of Skype 4.0 development we have had the benefit of feedback from tens of thousands of users. That input has kept us tightly focused on improving the core experience, which brings people closer together, even when they are continents apart.”
Some key features:
• High Quality Video: The new bandwidth manager continually delivers a quality video calling experience, even on a low bandwidth connection. Skype now delivers up to 30-frames-per-second high quality video with a with a dual-core processor PC at 440/Kbs or higher, and a Skype-certified high-quality video webcam.
• Easier Start Up: Start up is friendlier and more accessible than ever before. New users are guided through a simple one, two, three process to download the Skype software, and then test the microphone, webcam, headset and audio quality components. After the first test call, a list of friends and family who are current Skype users is available to inspire conversation.
• Crystal Clear Sound Quality: Sound quality has also seen an improvement with calls that are even more clear and reliable. The Smart Help feature flags problems and helps correct sound issues during a call proactively. This new audio codec achieves wideband audio quality with 50 percent less bandwidth.
• Juggling Made Easy: Skype users can call in any mode: video, voice, SMS, instant message to Skype, mobile or land-based devices, and the new Conversations tab makes it easy to keep track of multiple conversations in one place. Skype 4.0 offers the flexibility to manage conversations from one big, central screen in Default View or in Compact View, which allows users to put each conversation into a separate window.
The irony in all of this is that I have to wait for a corporate update on my work PC before I get to play around with it (okay, please stop laughing). I’ve asked my wife to download it onto our home PC so I can kick the tires tonight (seriously, please stop). In the meantime, would love to hear what folks think about the new release.