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Tech’ news in brief: Skype round-up

Skype Unveils 3.0

The new features in Skype 3.0 for Windows are called Extras and Public Chats. Extras enables game playing and music recommendation through Last.fm. There will also be something called ‘mood messages,’ which will allow users to ‘explain how they are feeling and what they are doing with their friends and families, no matter where they happen to be,’ according to Skype’s release.”

OK, major problem, here. Right now, Skype has got their strategy a little out of kilter. While the Windows version marches on, neither the Mac or Linux version are on an equal footing feature-for-feature.

Might I suggest either the Windows version is put on hold for a while until the Mac and Linux versions catch up? Or, the Mac and Linux versions are given some extra attention?

In terms of feature disparity and the problems associated with that kind of strategy, Skype only need to look to MSN Messenger and how the Windows and Mac versions are vastly different.

Case in point, only last week a business colleague attempted to invite me into a Skype chat session, only to be told by his copy of Skype for Windows that I had an incompatible, older version of Skype, even though I was using the most up to date version for Mac OS X.

Clearly that isn’t good enough, certainly not for me at any rate.

Skype now charging for a previously free service

“’The new Skype Unlimited Calling Plan is an affordable option that will save consumers hundreds of dollars compared to high rates charged by traditional phone companies,’ said Don Albert, North America General Manager for Skype. ‘We want to give Skype customers convenient options of choosing either an unlimited calling plan with a flat annual rate and or staying with our standard pay-per-minute offering.’Does Vonage have anything to fear? Maybe, maybe not. Skype requires a PC to use, and as of yet there have been no solutions for tying a home’s existing POTS infrastructure to Skype (although I know of at least one company that wants to try). But the quality is outstanding and some of the of nicer Skype phones (which we recently reviewed) are finally coming down in price.”

I signed up with Skype for my own number, which I’ve yet to use. What I have used is the VoIP-to-phone feature to call friends in Bulgaria and New York.

The call quality was good, the price was fine, but I’m no expert on this stuff, so I can’t really comment on the deal that Skype is offering since the vast majority of my international calls go through Skype proper, rather than the VoIP-to-phone thing.

Anyone got some insight into the pricing situation? Is what Skype is offering good or bad? Share…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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