Skype brandishes better beta (and mad ninja pirate)

I'm just hangin' on the telephone with IT Blogwatch, in which Skype 3.0 breaks (beta) cover. Not to mention why Chris the ninja pirate went mad...

Juan Carlos Perez is in the phonebooth: [it's a walk across the hall]

Skype Ltd. will begin testing an upgrade of its free communications software that can automatically detect phone numbers in Web pages and initiate calls. Skype 3.0, which launched in a beta version today, also features community conference calls and text chats, as well as IT management features ... [which] will let network administrators remotely manage Skype deployments among their end users.

Other new features are Skypecasts and public chats, which are conference calls and text chats in which people with a common interest can gather to communicate with each other [and] the user interface has been modified to make it easier to find commands and perform actions.

[Your humble blogwatcher just set up a public chat for IT Blogwatch -- click the link and join the fun.] Eric Bangeman has more:

Public Chats allow Skype 3.0 users to create and join large text chatrooms that appear to operate much like IRC chatrooms. Moderators can direct conversation topics, kick users, and determine who can participate in chats and to what extent. Public Chat links can be included on web pages, allowing surfers to jump into conversations via Skype.

Skypecast began testing in May with a handful of Skype partners. Still in beta, Skypecasts are conference calls handled over Skype's network that can handle up to 100 users. Like Public Chats, Skypecasts allow moderators to control the flow of the conference calls with mute and "eject" buttons. Like Public Chats, Skypecast links can appear on web pages to enable 'Netizens to join calls. Click-to-call is an extension of a feature first found on eBay. It works with both Internet Explorer and Firefox, using a phone number recognition feature to enable one-click Skype calls directly from a web page.


As of now, Skype 3.0 beta is for Windows only, and that will likely remain the case for the next several months. The official Mac OS X client just hit 2.0 last month, and Skype for Linux is currently at version 1.3.

We thought eBay's decision to buy Skype last year was a bit of a head-scratcher, and it's still unclear how the online auctioneer is going to recoup the $2.6 billion it paid for the company ... Skype's decision to make calls within the US and Canada free through the end of the year has, at the very least, increased interest in the application.

Dan York has the IT angle:

Part of the fun of working in the "Office of the CTO" for a VoIP company is that your job description includes an aspect of trying out new and emerging technology. Formally I typically state it as something like "evaluating and analyzing new technologies to determine what opportunities and/or threats there may be to the corporation and its products", but since that usually causes people's eyes to glaze over, I tend to simplify it as "I try out new VoIP stuff and see if I can break it." That tends to hold people's attention a wee bit better


Skype came out with a new Guide for Network Administrators that includes 9 pages of guidance for deploying Skype within the enterprise.

Skype's Duncan Lamb helped design the new UI:

Making Skype easy to use is something we take very seriously. It’s not enough to keep dreaming up cool new features, because if no one can figure them out, we’ve wasted all that hard work. So we’re constantly asking ourselves questions like: “Is this as simple as it could be?”, “Does this do what people really want to do?” “Could my hamster, Rambo use it?”


We took the old toolbar and broke it apart, placing each of the tools where they really belong, so you can always find what you need, when you need it. We then smartened up the tabs to make it quick and easy to move around Skype ... By putting buttons to call and chat right on the contact card, it’s much quicker to get talking. The menu button puts you closer to all kinds of cool features like sending a photo to your mum or viewing your chat history with that special someone ... We’ve totally overhauled the call tab putting tools where you need them. Now it’s easy to mute your microphone, add another person to a call, start your webcam or quickly change your sound settings, right from the call tab ... We’ve worked really hard on making Skype into a beautiful application.

Katie Fehrenbacher:

The first thing we noticed ... is that the company did some serious UI feng shui ... The 3.0 version also adds a lot of social aspects ... we’d never seen so many people Skypecasting, though, it is the day of the release


There’s a bunch of other features like an Extras section that shows off additional applications you can use like Pando. We previously pointed out how Skype doesn’t always help out its third party developers, but this could go a long way to giving small applications more prominence.

Chris Gilmer also notices the Extras feature:

This is an area that I was not aware of before, but was kicking around for developers. The Extras are a way developers can write extras for the Skype interface that enhances the functions. Check out for some cool extras that can be added to the application. Overall, Skype has added in some nice improvements to the new 3.0, with big ones being the cleaner interface design. Being that Skype 3.0 is still in Beta, more changes and additions are sure to pop up.

Amit Agarwal notices an interesting extra:

With Pamela, you can enhance Skype with tons of interesting and useful features like support for Blogging, Podcasting, Call Recording, Answering Machine, Auto chat reply and even Video Recording. Pamela comes in four flavors. The basic version is absolutely free and lets you record Skype voice chats for upto 15 minutes. For recordings of unlimited lengths, you can consider taking the pro route. The nice part is that Pamela 3.0 is compatible with Skype 2.6 as well as Skype 3.0 which was launched hours ago.

Alec Saunders:

Of course, y’all know what we’re looking for at iotum. Yup — a call transfer API.  Lenn Pryor promised us all last spring that we’d see a Skype to Skype transfer in the fall of 2006 ... the call transfer API is in.  Huzzah!  Also, a new plug-in architecture is one of the key components of the release.  Getting it work has been quite a bit of work, but it’s now been tested with a small group of hand picked ISV’s including Jyve, Pamela, and Unyte.

And Jean Mercier is... from Belgium:

Today we reached ... 8 million concurrent users online ... Prediction for the 9 million concurrent users online: January 9! But I hope we will reach it before Christmas!

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

Don't forget to join the Skype public chat for IT Blogwatch. And finally... Weebl and Bob step in to help Chris

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon