Skype is an instant messaging application available for download in both free and paid versions. Features available on Skype include basic instant messaging and chat rooms, audio calls to Skype users and telephone numbers, conference calls, video chatting and even group video conferences. Skype is also compatible with screen sharing and file transfers. Skype provides several options for both business and personal use.
Skype offers free audio calls between Skype users or paid calls to regular phone numbers. To make calls to regular phone numbers, you must purchase Skype credit. You can also use Skype credit to send SMS messages to cell phones from your computer. Skype provides a list of rates for phone calls and SMS messages to various countries within the application. Skype supports audio conference calls between Skype users, with up to 25 people (including the host) participating in one call. You must have a microphone and speakers, either built-in or external, to use the audio calling option on Skype.
One of the main features of Skype is video chatting, which requires a broadband Internet connection, webcam and microphone. With Skype, you have the option between free and paid video-calling services. Using the free version of Skype, you can initiate free video chats with any Skype user. There is no time limit or fee for one-to-one video chatting. To enable group video calling, you must purchase the Premium or Business version of Skype.
Skype provides Wi-Fi access around the world through compatible hotspots with the use of Skype credit. As of February 2011, you can use your Skype credit at a rate of 14 cents per minute to access more than 200,00 hotspots in a wide variety of countries. To access a Wi-Fi hotspot with Skype, you must first sign in to the application, then choose a public access Wi-Fi network. If the network isn't compatible with Skype Wi-Fi, you'll receive an automatic pop-up message prompting you to select another one.
Premium and Business Version
Skype offers both Premium and Business versions of its software. As of February 2011, the Skype Business version is only available for Windows. Skype Premium is available for both Windows and Mac. The Premium and Business versions of Skype require a monthly subscription and offer extra features such as group video chats and live customer-service support chats. Skype also offers a day pass for those who don't want to invest in a monthly subscription.
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