A new beta version of the voice, video and instant messaging chat tool Skype has been released. The big news in the second beta of Skype 5.0 is the addition of group call support. This feature makes it possible to conduct group video calls with up to ten people simultaneously – although in the beta this is limited to four.
Everyone involved in a group video call needs to have a version of Skype installed that supports the feature, but the improved performance and stability of the program means that there should be little hesitation in making the upgrade. Presently, Mac and Linux users do not have a suitable beta version available to them, but this is likely to change in the near future.
Call quality has been improved and there is a new automatic reconnection feature that kicks in should a call be cut off for any reason.
Overall, the program interface has been tweaked to give it a more polished feel and a new Skype Home page has been introduced to make it easier to manage your profile and monitor contacts.
Windows 7 users will also be pleased to find that the latest version of Skype behaves in a more standard fashion when working with taskbar tabs. Where previously two or more program windows would be accessible from the taskbar – even though only one was open – there is now just a single instance of the program window, and this allows for far easier switching between applications.
The beta version of Skype 5 can be downloaded from http://www.skype.com/go/downloading-beta.