The ever-popular VOIP and chat client, Skype, has released a new beta version for Windows that adds screen sharing. This was added to the last Mac beta in January, but the Windows version also includes integration with Gmail, Windows Live, AOL, Hotmail, LinkedIn and Yahoo for contact imports.
The new update allows both PC and Mac users to share screens (not just video) to make it something like GoToMeeting, though not as multi-user functional. With it, though, one-on-one tutorials and meetings can be done relatively easily.
Although some popular third-party plugins have better functionality in this regard, they’ve got to be feeling the heat as Skype is sure to make this feature much better before it’s official release. One downer to the screen sharing beta is that voice calls are required first, which might be a pain if you aren’t using a microphone.
Small price to pay, though, if you need a quick way to share a screen and show someone how something is done or give an update. Much easier than pointing a Web cam at it and hoping it looks right on the other end.
With the new addition, you can show all or a selected part of your screen to the other end. This is, as usual, a stable beta release from Skype and few have reported any problems with it.
The new screen sharing does not work with multiple contacts, however, so group chats with screen sharing are not yet possible. It can also slow down connections if you’re using voice at the same time, but usually only for those with shared or otherwise already-slow feeds.
Other small additions to the new Skype beta are birthday alerts, new functions for the visually-impaired, and a few bug and other fixes.
This is a nice first step for Skype, though I would have expected a little more from this addition. Maybe Skype is just seeing how much call there is for this kind of functionality to decide whether it’s worth developing. Still, it’s nice to see and might be useful for many of us.
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