The latest Skype, version 5.0 for Windows includes multi-point videoconferencing. We’ve tried it with up to four participants, and it works surprisingly well. Skype fan-persons are waiting to figure out what the actual cost of this might be; right now multipoint is available for a 28 day free trial. Point-to-point video calling works very well; on a par with the Polycom PVX application. We have tested on a variety of Windows platforms; Windows XP embedded, XP Pro, and Windows 7 Home and Pro with good and consistent results. The interface is kind of a mess; but once the calls are connected, sound and video are outstanding. Like everyone else they are trying to integrate with FaceBook in version 5.
Unfortunately, version 5 for some reason does not include the setting for receiving video calls full screen. So, our favorite application is broken in this version. Back to version 4.8!
Linux and Mac versions of the Skype program are still miles behind the Windows version. Multipoint video is promised soon for the Mac. I have this fantasy, of a Linux version, with multi-point video, with a programmable interface that would allow stripping out all of the directory and calling stuff, and simply allow people to receive full-screen video calls. Will this ever happen?
We’re also eagerly awaiting the SkypeKit, an updated version of the Skype API which should allow programmers to do wonderful things with Skype. Early beta users have been working on Skype TV applications that are embedded with some new televisions. We’d love to take part in the beta, but after being on the waiting list for some weeks, we are beginning to think we’ll never get the chance. SkypeKit is due to be released in the first quarter of the new year.