Today Microsoft announced that Skype is starting to roll out as a service on the Web. Skype for Web will allow users to chat, video call, and manage contacts from a web browser without having to download the Skype app. Microsoft is currently offering Skype for Web as a beta to select users.
To participate in the Skype for Web beta, Microsoft says to log on to Skype.com where the browser-based version of the video calling will be and check for an invitation. The company says its making invitations available to a small number of users to start and will expand to users worldwide “in the coming months.”
Aside from requiring an invitation for accessing the beta, Skype for Web will also require for browser plug-in for now, so the goal of not having to download something extra on another machine isn’t quite met yet, but Microsoft says its working on that (at least for Internet Explorer).
As the browser-based version of Skype is currently a beta, you will want to be aware of some known issues. Microsoft says the Skype for Web beta can make outgoing calls take longer than normal to go out, and “battery consumption when running Skype for Web on a Mac” is currently a known issue.
Microsoft says Skype for Web will work with the latest version of Chrome for Windows users as well as Internet Explorer, of course, as well as Firefox and Safari. While Chrome support seems to be limited to the Windows version of the browser for now, Skype for Web could potentially connect Chromebook users to the video chatting service in the future. (Update: TechCrunch reports that Microsoft has said Skype for Web will support instant messaging for Chromebook, but not video and voice calling at this time.)