Skype is not a new product, it's been around for nearly a decade and has been one of the mainstays of the digitization of the telephone, commonly referred to as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Microsoft purchased Skype back in 2011 and has recently released an update which makes Skype a front-line Microsoft product.
A few weeks ago, Skype Version 6 was introduced which allowed users with a Microsoft account to sign into Skype using their account name and password and have access to their Microsoft contacts. This move, of Microsoft backing a non Microsoft branded product, was seen by pundits as an interesting one, but it works well for those who use both Skype and Messenger. It means you don’t have to have two programs to do essentially the same thing; communicate.
Last week, Microsoft announced that Messenger will officially be merged into Skype. This means if you use Messenger, you will have to switch to Skype. This should automatically happen the next time you update Messenger. This may seem like a weird move, but there are some great benefits to this merger that will make both Messenger and Skype more competitive. Some of the benefits to the merger include:
- Messaging on more platforms - Skype is available for nearly every platform, which means you can communicate on nearly any device.
- Central hub for communication - With this update, you can call phones, conduct video chats and use Instant Messaging all from one place. There is no longer a need to have 3-4 different programs open.
- Group communication - If you are looking for a free platform that enables you to communicate with a group, say your team or employees, Skype allows for this.
- Screen sharing - You can share your screen on Skype, which is ideal for giving product demonstrations, or even showing a PowerPoint presentation during a chat.
After you update Messenger or Skype, you'll be taken to the sign in screen and will be asked if you are an existing Skype user or a new one. If you are an existing user, you can click I have a Skype account and you’ll be taken to a new screen where you can merge your Messenger and Skype accounts. If you are new to Skype, you can sign up for a new account by pressing I'm new to Skype. Follow the signup process during which, you will be given the option to merge your accounts.
When you sign in and merge your accounts, you will see all of your messenger contacts synced and available under Contacts in the left-hand panel. Messaging a contact is as simple as double clicking on their name. To call you press the green phone button icon when you hover over their name. Alternatively, you can right click on the name and select either Call, Instant Message, Send Files, etc.
Skype is an ideal VoIP solution for light call volumes and inter-office messaging in small businesses. However, if you handle a high volume of calls, or are in a larger office, you will need a more robust system. If you're interested in a VoIP system for the whole office, regardless of if it's Skype or some other setup, contact us, we can help with that.