It’s been an eventful past year for Skype. First they introduced high quality video calling in October, then they surpassed their 10 million simultaneous users milestone , followed by introducing video calling for their Linux version and then reaching their 100 billion minute milestone. It’s been a busy year to say the least with a lot of accomplishments, but none of their accomplishments over the last year is as significant as their release of Skype 4.0 Beta 1 for Windows. This is a major release from Skype that focuses on video chat and an improved, simple interface.

From the official announcement on the Skype Blog, they talk about their new product and say that video “is starting to take center stage alongside other great features such as instant messaging, group conversations, SMS & voicemail.” The new interface places more emphasis on video chat, and the window can be smoothly resized.

Because it’s such a big release with some major changes, they realized that it will probably take some getting used to which is why they intend to keep it in beta all Summer long so that people can try it out and provide feedback on what they like and what they don’t. Here’s a quick run-down on new features:

  • video calling screen size is larger
  • improved “condensed” interface that’s simple and more intuitive
  • new single click video calling button
  • video chat starts big (instead of small)
  • with one click, have an IM conversation alongside your video call
  • working with hardware is easier

Below you’ll find a screenshot which gives you an idea of what the new interface looks like.

skype 4.0 beta.png

They really focused on making it simple to use so that more people will be willing to try it and use it regularly, and it looks good. While it’s taken some time for Skype to release a new version, the wait may have been worth it.

If you’re interested in trying out Skype Beta 4.0, you can find the download links here.

Thanks for the tip Omar!