Microsoft is launching a new browser-based version of Skype specifically designed for small businesses. Dubbed Skype Meetings, the service is essentially a stripped down version of the Skype for Business, offering real-time audio and HD video conferencing for groups of up to 10 people instead of 250 and a more limited set of collaboration tools.
With Skype Meetings you can quickly set up meetings and share a personalized URL that anyone can click to join. Participants can IM, share their screen or PowerPoint presentation or use the virtual laser pointer and whiteboard features to highlight parts of a presentation. The meeting organizer can also mute the audience when necessary.
Such features are already available with Skype Business in addition to others like record meetings, and integrate with Office 365 web and client apps like Outlook -- but that app requires a paid Office 365 subscription. The free consumer version of Skype also allows group video chat with up to 25 people, whether on PC or mobile, but doesn’t include any of the business-oriented features and all participants must have a Skype account.
One important caveat is that Skype Meetings supports meetings for up to 10 people for the first 60 days only and up to 3 people thereafter. There’s no paid version to bring it back up to 10 -- instead, Microsoft likely sees this as a freemium version of Skype Business and hopes you will sign up for Office 365 to get richer online meetings capabilities.