Skype bringing free group video calling to Windows 8.1 devices

Skype will provide free group video calls for Windows 8.1 devices

Skype is bringing its group video-calling feature to Windows tablets, smartphones and hybrid devices running the latest version of the OS.

In April, Skype made group video calling free on existing platforms such as PCs, Apple and Android devices, which led to a four-fold increase in the service’s use, it said. Now Skype is bringing this to Windows 8.1 in a move that will allow business users to host video-conferencing calls on the go, quickly and easily.

Skype said it had also reworked the group video-calling interface for Windows 8.1, adding a feature that displays the video feed of the person currently talking rather than simply displaying a gallery of videos.

“We’ve found that most group calls take place between three or four participants. When building the group video-calling experience for modern Windows, we optimised so that the three most talkative people – plus yourself – are visible at the same time,” explained Skype on its blog.

Other additions for Windows 8.1 include the ability to multitask during a group video call. Users can check emails, watch other videos and carry out web searches allowing the Skype window to be resized so that it only takes up a limited proportion of a screen.

The video below demonstrates how the new group video-calling features work on Windows 8.1.

While Skype is not directly targeting business users with this added feature, the popularity of Windows-based platforms in corporate environments means there is scope for the group video-calling service to be used as a form of video conferencing.

Skype is not the only company to look at improving video calling. In February V3 reported that Google plans to enter the video-conferencing market with a suite of software tools and Chromebox hardware manufactured by regular partner Asus.

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