Skype 3.5 Beta: New Release Today

Expanding the real time conversation, Skype today is releasing for public testing a new 3.5 beta version of Skype for Windows. In an interview with Mike Bartlett, Skype’s Windows Release Manager, he described the following new features:

Extended video snapshot capture: Skype 3.2 allows you to take your own photo from your video camera for, say, your Skype Profile photo. This new release will allow you to capture snapshots of your remote party during your conversation. The major question here is whether this feature includes the etiquette for call recording such as requesting permission to take a snapshot of the remote party.

But the video options gets even more dynamic. You will now be able to share video content like film clips and music videos with friends and family through your mood message. You can also share a video clip into a chat discussion during a conversation. The caveats are:

  • videos are served up by one or two video hosting partners (who are also responsible for associated copyright issues and management)
  • video may be from the hosting partners’ content libraries or self-produced using the hosting partners’ services

Call Transfer, initially introduced with the first 3.5 beta, has now been enhanced to allow Call Transfer during cross platform calls between Windows and Mac PC’s. But to review how Call Transfer works:

  • Skype to Skype call transfer is free.
  • Skype to SkypeOut, SkypeIn to Skype and SkypeIn to SkypeOut call transfer requires a SkypePro subscription. If you are in North America with the Skype Unlimited Calling Plan, you still need a SkypePro subscription; however, it will bring other benefits such as a 50% discount on SkypeIn subscriptions and free Skype Voice Mail.
  • Call Transfer within the Skype client to individuals and Skype Contact Groups is handled manually during a call; however, as described so well by Don Kennedy recently, automated Call Transfer is also available via the Skype API’s and Don offers a free Skype Call Transfer Example within the Skype Extras.

New to Skype in this release is an Auto Redial feature that will redial your engaged party every two minutes until the call is answered.

There is also a new marketing program and feature called Commercial Contacts, involving managing a business’s presence and brand when using Skype. I’ll leave it to Phil to provide more details.

One of my concerns with such a rapid flow of new releases and beta versions is how Skype is managing overall performance quality as I had experienced minor difficulties with a couple of the 3.2 released versions (under specific configurations and circumstances). With the adoption of Skype by many small businesses, Skype has become mission critical and must have 99.999% (aka five nines) availability.

Mike mentioned the primary test for a release is ensuring that call quality keeps the high standards associated with the Skype brand and that several releases have been stalled pending addressing call quality issues. However, they also are expanding their Quality Assurance team and take user feedback, especially from the beta versions, seriously. I can personally vouch that upon reporting a couple of problems with the 3.2 releases, fixes were available within one business day.

Looking forward to checking out the new beta release features and reporting on the experience. Put your experience with Skype 3.5 in the Comments to this post.

Download the Skype 3.5 beta release here. Skype for Windows Release Notes

Tags: Skype 3.5 beta, Skype for Windows, Call Transfer, Skype video, SkypePro, auto redial, Mike Bartlett

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.
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