Skype gets more integrated with Facebook

Microsoft's VoIP solution now allows face-to-face calling from within the Facebook social network for users of Windows and Mac OS. The new Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac and Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows clients, released recently, enables Facebook-to-Facebook video calling over Skype from within the social network.

"This new development in the Skype-to-Facebook partnership is the newest example of how Skype is removing communications barriers and making it easier to connect with friends, family, and business colleagues," said Rick Osterloh, VP for products at Microsoft's Skype unit.

"Our unique approach to social is about personal connections with people. We are on a mission to connect over one billion people and our strong partnership with Facebook brings us one step closer to this goal," said Osterloh, in a press release.

Facebook and Skype first began working together earlier this 2011, before Microsoft finalized its US$8.5 billion acquisition of the video calling specialist, to develop integrated services.

To make Skype calls from within Facebook, users need to link their account to Skype. Then they can select any friend and contact them by hitting the video call button in the Skype desktop client. The recipient can also answer the call from within Facebook interface.

"This new feature lets you maintain social connections with your Facebook friends and complements previously announced features such as being able to see when your Facebook friends are online, read their status updates, and IM them all from Skype," added Osterloh.

The updated Skype clients for Mac and Windows also add a number of other new features. The Mac version includes video rendering technology that is designed to provide a clearer picture, while Windows users with a premium subscription get a new group screen sharing feature that allows several users to appear on screen simultaneously.

Integration with Skype is just one of many ways in which Microsoft plans to extend Skype's reach and functionality. Company officials have said Skype, or parts of it, will show up in everything from Office applications to the Xbox 360 gaming platform. Microsoft also plans to integrate Skype into its Lync business collaboration suite. The beta clients can be downloaded for free from the Skype web site.

Microsoft’s Skype uses a proprietary Internet telephony VoIP network called the Skype protocol. The protocol has not been made publicly available by Skype and official applications using the protocol are closed-source.

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