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Microsoft updates Skype for Web with new features

Last year Microsoft launched a browser based version of Skype called Skype for Web which allowed users to access the service without downloading a separate app.

Now, the company has decided to update the web version of its communication suite to include notifications, the option to make outgoing calls to mobile phones or landlines, the ability to watch YouTube videos right from within the web app and now even non-Skype users can quickly be added into conversations.

All of these updates to Skype for Web were carefully chosen from user feedback that Microsoft received.

The addition of notifications to the service will allow users to be informed of incoming messages even when they are working in a different application or tab in their browsers. This will enable users to multitask while using Skype for Web, making it a much more viable means of communicating while working within a browser based environment such as on Google's Chrome OS.

In order to make outgoing calls, Skype users will need to purchase credit, sign into their accounts and then they will be able to use the 'Call Phones' tab to dial out. This function works the same way it does when using Skype on other platforms so users who are familiar with it will be right at home.

YouTube videos will now be fully embedded within Skype for Web which will allow users to watch the videos and comment on them without leaving their conversation. Before links to videos from the site would appear as URLs that would open another tab and redirect to YouTube's main page. This feature is based upon the new way in which links to websites now appear with a picture from the site alongside the title of the linked material.

Adding non-Skype users to a chat is a feature that is aimed at simplifying the collaborative process. With other messaging services, users would first have to sign up for an account to be able to join a conversation alongside their friends or colleagues. By breaking the barrier to entry, Microsoft is able to show non-Skype users the benefits of using their service as opposed to others while reminding Skype users why they use Skype as their preferred means of web communication.

The new features added to Skype for Web by Microsoft are just the beginning and the company is planning on rolling out quite a few more in the coming months. This should help the communications platform remain relevant despite being released in 2003.

It will also help Skype fight off competitors such as Slack that are looking to expand into its territory.

Image Credit: Archiwiz / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.