Skypeheads will already know all this, but here are some cool developments in the last 6 weeks (yes, even despite my “Skype: be afraid” posting back in May):
A. Multiparty video w sharing: third-party Vskype, tested and commented extensively on June 14th 2005 in SkypeJournal by Bill Campbell, with a further update on August 3rd (“Who’s afraid of video for Skype?“. In the original article, Bill writes:
Today Santa Cruz Networks ships the beta release of vSkype, the first multiuser video conferencing extension to Skype for Microsoft Windows. So begins the Skype Video War. What a cool arms race. There are three groups in the race. The IM people upgrading audio and video (AOL, MSN and Yahoo!), the Skype third party developers, and Skype itself.
Cool things I like…
1. It is encrypted end-to-end
2. Collaboration: I can share a PowerPoint or any other window on my desktop or even my whole desktop!
3. When one party talks their name under their pic changes colour
4. I can detach a video pic and resize it. Shown below. This is part of the vSkyper team at SCN. I detached Sam’s pic to a separate window. Sam is the SCN in-house anthropologist. I guess they hired Sam for his videogengic eyes and Sam wanted to do a PhD thesis on old people in Silicon Valley! (Grin)
[UPDATE: some nice user-testing experiences in an educational context, including plenty of screen snapshots here on the Moodle Forum.]
B. Free calls to toll-free (e.g. 800) numbers global beta: Skype announced that here.
The following countries and number ranges are supported. We’re working on the rest of the world.
* France: +33 800, +33 805, +33 809
* Poland: +48 800
* UK: +44 500, +44 800, +44 808
* USA: +1 800, +1 866, +1 877, +1 888
We think this is a fairly big thing.
I agree completely: it is a very big thing. It’s not the free-ness as much as the functionality that is fantastic. I’ve had times when I’ve had some urgent interactions requiring me to call from the UK to a US company or service that only offers a toll-free 800 number, imagining that the whole world lives in the US. That’s the end of the interaction, because you simply cannot dial that toll-free US 800 number from the UK. Duh. Until now…
This feature alone is enough to over-ride my “Skype: be afraid“worries and get me to re-install Skype!
C. Skype almost sold to Rupert Murdoch for $3Bn: Robert X Cringely writes, on July 28th 2005 [thanks to pointer from Chris Valentine]:
… my guess is Rupert Murdoch wasn’t really serious and mainly looked at Skype to see the company’s books and to learn more about the VoIP business without having to pay for the lesson. So what’s most interesting about News Corp. and Skype isn’t that the deal fell through, but that News Corp. even knew Skype was available. That means the company is probably being broadly flogged by an investment bank. It also means that whether News Corp. is the purchaser or not, Skype WILL be sold sometime in the near future.
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