Microsoft is opening up one of its Skype features that was previously available only for paid Premium subscribers. Today, the company announced that users of the Windows desktop, Mac and Xbox One Skype clients can now launch group video calls for free.
In a blog post, Microsoft stated that while Skype is best known for its one-on-one video calling features, "we know it’s also essential to connect with the groups of people who matter most, whether friends, family or colleagues." The blog post added that free group video calling will be added to Skype"s many other platforms in the near future.
Currently, Skype can handle up to 10 people in a group video chat. Today"s move to make this feature free is most likely a response by Microsoft to Google Hangouts, which has offered free group video calls for quite some time.
Recently, Microsoft revealed its plans to update Skype for Windows Phone 8.1, which will enabled the operating system"s Cortana digital assistant to automatically launch the app when ordered. It will also let users speak into the phone to ask to chat with one of their Skype contacts and to quickly change from a voice to a video call with one button.