In a move to keep itself a strong player in the VoIP market, Skype has released a beta of Skype 2.5, which boasts improved ease of dialing, built-in payment options using 15 different currencies, and better conference calling capabilities.
Skype 2.5 and other new features from Skype such as an integration with Outlook, letting users make calls to their Outlook contacts from within Skype, are currently being tested by a handful of Skype partners.
Skypecasts are massively multicaller conference calls supporting up to 100 people from anywhere in the world. Each call is moderated by a host who can control who gets to speak via “mute” and “eject” buttons. Skype is positioning Skypecasts as an online community-building tool and a way for people to “discuss shared interests.” Basically the next step in internet chat rooms. Plans are for the current testing to be followed by a wider public beta.
Although Skype 2.5 seems like a beacon of light for VoIP fanatics, the company has not been in the cleanest operations recently, leading some to wonder if Ebay has had any second thoughts about the purchase. Most recently, Skype was hit with a RICO lawsuit by Streamcast over its alleged use of the FastTrack technology also used by Morpheus and Kazaa. The company’s Intel-only tie-in, which means that only PCs with certain Intel processors can make 10-way calls, has caught the eye of AMD as it is engaged in the beginnings of what looks to be a long antitrust battle with Intel.