Skype 2.8 beta Release Proves It's Not Dead Yet

When I was the Director of Technology at b5media, our staple application (outside of WordPress) was Skype. Don’t ask me why. It was just there when I arrived on the scene a few months after the company launched. I think it had to do with three of the founders being in Australia and long distance calls.

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

However, since those early days in 2005, voice chat has become a staple of any notable IM client. AIM and Google Talk, both among the most commonly used IM apps in the internet world, both support VoIP and now both offer video chat as well. Meanwhile, Skype has become increasingly unstable and unreliable, in my estimation. More often than not, a message delivered by Skype is late – sometimes by days or weeks. I’ve had one message delivered a year late.

When I left b5media, I stopped using Skype for the most part. I still have my account and the Skype client remains open, but it is no longer a main staple of my work. That could change with Skype 2.8 beta for Mac which is now available for download.

A main business application for anyone who has a web startup is “the demo”. You want to show your product to someone or a group of someones for partnership possibilities, general feedback, or to review QA findings with remote developers. Up until now, company would purchase Glance or WebEx accounts to provide this functionality. Built into Skype 2.8 is screen sharing.

Skype Access provides the ability for Skype to connect to Boingo hotspots (somewhat limiting, but a good step) and pay for the access directly from Skype Credit. In order to be truly ubiquitous, though, Skype needs to offer the same ability for T-Mobile and AT&T Hotspots.

For more of the new features, Disruptive Technology has done a great review. Check it out.

Skype for Mac does kind of change the game again – at least for me. I’m more likely to use Skype more often again. I’m more likely because it meets business need that I have. It is not simply a new bling release. It significantly alters the roadmap.

That said, I’ll be curious to see if they have done anything with their back-end infrastructure to make message delivery more reliable, VoIp calls less laggy and conference calling more stable. If anyone has any insight, pass it along in comments.

Update: As an update, Boingo wireless supports T-Mobile, AT&T and other hotspot types so you can pay for your AT&T wifi access with Skype now.