Skype is rolling out a Skype 5.0 beta for Windows that lets up to five people join a single video conference call. Other vendors such as Cisco Systems and Polycom are looking to expand their video collaboration capabilities.
Skype is expanding the capabilities of its video communications technology
by enabling users to hold a conference with up to five people.
The Skype 5.0 beta for Windows, which offers the group video
calling capability, became available May 13. It is being offered as a free
Currently, Skype lets users initiate calls to only one other
person. However, the ability to confer with multiple people is growing in
importance as video collaboration continues to gain in popularity, and as
larger companies, such as Cisco Systems and Polycom, continue to pour R&D
dollars into their technology.
Peter Parkes, Skype's top blogger, said in a post May 13 that
is one of several improvements the company plans to make
this year. An official version of Skype 5.0 for Windows will be released later
Also coming later this year will be group calling for Macs, he
"Group video calling is just one in a set of new premium
features you'll see us roll out during 2010," Parkes wrote. "We
haven't set prices for these premium features yet, but rest assured that we're
still absolutely committed to bringing you free voice and two-way video
Parkes also warned of limitations in the beta version, and
"a few rough edges."
Everyone on the group video call will need to running the new
version of Skype. Once the new version is downloaded, bringing in additional
people is as easy as clicking the "Add" button to send out an
invitation to people to join the call, and then clicking the "Video
The video collaboration space is getting more attention from
both consumers and businesses, as a way of saving money on travel costs. The
result is an increasingly competitive landscape, made even more so by Cisco's
recent $3.4 billion purchase
of video communications vendor Tandberg.
Cisco officials have been vocal in their belief that video will
be a key technology in communications over the next few years, and are looking
to extend those capabilities beyond their core enterprise customers.
Tandberg will give Cisco a greater presence in the small and
midsize business space, and officials also are looking to drive the company's
TelePresence immersive video collaboration technology into the consumer market.