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Microsoft Gives Skype a Wider Net with Expanded Chat and Video

Microsoft wants to broaden the reach of its Skype service and is doing so by making it possible for Skype users to invite those on other services such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter and WhatsApp to join a conversation. The move comes just a week after Microsoft released new previews of Skype for Business for Office 365 users.

The expanded chat capability, released today, is described by Microsoft as a small update that will change the way people use Skype. The company is hoping that it'll get more people using Skype.

"Anyone can join the chat as a guest from their computer using Skype for Web and enjoy one to one or group instant messaging, voice and video calls," according to the announcement by the Skype team. "No Skype account or app download [is] required. Now you can use Skype to chat with anyone and not just the people in your Skype contact list."

Overall, the increased emphasis on Skype and Skype for Business shows that Microsoft is looking to get more customers using the portfolio of services, though clearly the focus is on the business customers, especially when it comes to video.

In a research note published on Seeking Alpha, Dallas Salazar, chief analyst at CapGainr.com, said he believes Microsoft's latest Skype for Business update could make the company a key player in business videoconferencing, given the forthcoming release's integration with Active Directory, improved user interface, new dashboard and integration with Office apps.

"Basically, this puts Skype for Business on-par with [Google] Hangouts from a tech capacity/use case standpoint. When Microsoft updates Skype for Business to be inclusive of the productivity suite access, this will then become my go-to video app. That's going to be a game changer for me," he wrote. "This also is the next important evolution of video chat to pay very close attention to -- the buildout of cross-sell capacity."

The cross-sell will come with Office 365 and the new Surface Hub. Do you envision using Skype more for personal or business use?

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/15/2015 at 1:58 PM


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