Microsoft has begun rolling out a beta version of Skype for Web, which will allow users to make video calls without needing to download the Skype app.
Currently users who want to use Skype have to download the app on their computer or phone. The new web-based system works on Internet Explorer 10 or above, or the latest versions of Chrome on Windows or Firefox. It also works on a Mac with Safari 6 or above.
"Skype for Web makes it quicker and easier than ever before to connect with friends, family and colleagues around the world, for free -- directly from Skype.com," said the company in a statement. "It's perfect if you prefer using the web rather than an app: perhaps you're sitting at a computer that doesn't already have Skype downloaded. Or maybe you're on the go and using an Internet café or hotel computer whilst on vacation where you can't download Skype at all. Using Skype for Web makes it more convenient to get to your conversations."
Users who want to take advantage of Skype for Web currently need to install a small plugin for it to work, but once Web Real-Time Communications or WebRTC is included in the system users will be able to use it without installing anything.
WebRTC is a technology that allows for browser-to-browser video and voice chatting. Most modern browsers support WebRTC, but Skype does not yet take advantage of that. For now, people who want to take advantage of Skype for Web will have to take download a plugin, however soon enough, when it starts using WebRTC, the new video chatting system will not require any plugins.
It seems as though Chromebook users will not yet be able to take advantage of Skype for Web. Currently, instant messaging features on Web for Skype are available, but actual video calling will not yet work.
The new service is in private beta, meaning that it's invite only. Users will know if they have an invite by logging into the Skype app on their computers, at which point they will get a notification.
"If you already use Skype, go to Skype.com and sign in to see all your contacts and latest conversation history," continued Microsoft in its statement. "We're making Skype for Web available to small number of existing and new users to begin with, and gradually rolling out worldwide in the coming months -- look out for an invite when you sign in to your Skype account on Skype.com."