Skype's premium feature - group video calling, is now free for all the Windows, OSX and XBOX users. Skype offered this feature to all its premium subscribers for $8.99/month on various platforms. It appears that Microsoft has understood that competing with rival like Google Hangouts isn't possible without offering the group video calling free of cost to all of its users. Skype made an official announcement just a few hours ago through their official blog that Skype group video calling feature is now free for everyone. Skype promised to make this feature available on other platforms in near future.
Skype's been one of the most popular video calling application on the Internet since its inception. However, Skype continued to offer one to one video calls for a long time; keeping the group calling facility limited to the paying customers. Google exactly knew the drawback of the service and began offering free of cost video hangouts. We learn that Skype found it quite difficult to keep charging money for the services its rival was offering for free.
Group video calling feature lets you have a real time video conference or chat with about 10 people. Microsoft (the owner of Skype) however recommends that for the best experience the number of participants should be about 5. The free calls however come with a free usage limit of about 100 hours/month and 10 hours/day limit. The individual video calls are limited to about 4 hours per day. If you cross these limits, Skype will turn off the video and convert the call into your regular voice call.
We expect a few changes to Skype's premium offering in coming days. Microsoft sure is changing under its new CEO, Mr. Satya Nadella. If you haven't downloaded Skype yet, download the latest version from official Skype website (available in source). Do let us know your thoughts on the surprise announcement from Skype & Microsoft.