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Skype updates for Mac and enterprise

an image of the Skype logoI use Skype almost exclusively. Yeah, I use Meebo, too, but it’s Skype that keeps me connected to clients as well as colleagues and friends.

So my interest was truly piqued by a double-whammy of Skype news this last week. Apparently, there’s an enterprise-class version of Skype on its way:

“The enterprise version will allow ‘company-owned Skype name creation’ and ‘Direct technical support from Skype,’ among other features.”

So it’s more a support issue than anything else. But, for enterprise customers, support is not just the added-value nicety, but a critical component of any product that has serious ambitions of finding its way into their hallowed networks.

A friend of mine supported a VoIP (voice over IP) telephony system at the last company he worked for, and it’s no mean feat. In fact, it was quite an undertaking, by all accounts.

I imagine then that the ‘company-owned Skype name creation’ is a branding exercise, though I’m not too sure on that one.

More applicable to me is news that yet another version of the Skype client for Mac is in public beta, with some new features:

Skype for Mac 2.6 was released today and includes a number of ‘catch up’ features previously available only for Windows Skype users. Among them are a chat type indicator (knowing when your contacts are writing messages), Skype Prime integration and automatic updates.

But the coolest feature is Mac-only at this point, Call Transfer. When you are on a Skype call, you can transfer it to another Skype user on your contact list. It is available under the ‘more’ button during an ongoing call.”

While this new, suitably cool feature is a welcome one, as well as the belated inclusion on features found previously only on the Skype client for Windows, all of this jostling of features is a major bugbear of mine.

The feature disparity between the Mac and Windows versions is confusing for the end user. And anything that people find confusing usually results in some people just walking away.

I’m guessing that it might be as a result of usability studies, but if that’s the case, at least still include those features on both clients and just hide away in a menu somewhere the ones that are used less on each client.

That way, people using either the Mac or Windows client can then make full use of those features.

Let’s hope Skype makes the right call…

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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.