Skype Starts Beta Testing of Version 4.0.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service provider Skype today began public testing of a new software version that makes video chatting a more central part of its service.

Skype, which is owned by online auctioneer eBay, first began offering a video-calling feature in 2005, but hadn’t seen widescale acceptance until recently, mainly because it was difficult to use. The version 4.0 software now in beta testing seeks to correct that. Its new capabilities include full-screen resolution for the video window, automatic detection of computer settings and available audio and video components to make getting started easier, one-click access to the video feature, and the ability to manage and move screens for using multiple communication modes simultaneously.

"We've given video calling the screen size it finally deserves, plus we've made it really simple to use," Mike Bartlett, director of Windows product management at Skype, wrote in a blog post about the new offering. "A single click on the Video call button and you'll be seeing and talking.

"Helping people juggle lots of conversations all at once is another reason behind the big changes in 4.0 Beta. We found people had to keep track of multiple windows in order to have a few conversations. In fact, if you had a High-Quality Video call alongside an IM, plus you were sending a couple of pictures that was five windows! It's now all in one window," he continued.

Video calling on Skype already constitutes 28 percent of all calls made on the service. "Our video calling experience, now enjoyed on over a quarter of all Skype-to-Skype calls, is starting to take center stage, alongside other great features, such as instant messaging, group conversations, SMS, and voicemail," Bartlett wrote on the blog.

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