Skype is the most popular free voice over IP and instant messaging service worldwide. It allows users to send text messages, video and voice calls over the Internet. Users can also call landlines and mobile phones at competitive rates using Skype credit, premium accounts and subscriptions. Skype was publicly launched in 2003 and now accounts for approximately one third of all international calling minutes. Skype uses P2P technology to connect users on a multitude of platforms, including desktop computers, mobile devices and tablets. The quality of the call (according to your Internet signal) and additional features such as conversation history, conference calls and secure file transfer are excellent. There has been some criticism about the use of program bandwidth and security vulnerabilities.

Skype calls

Once you have downloaded and installed Skype, you must create a user profile and a unique Skype name. You can then search for other users in the Skype directory or call them directly using your Skype name. Voice chat comes with conference calls, secure file transfer and highly secure end-to-end encryption. Video chat is available on higher bandwidth connections and makes keeping up with distant family and friends much more interactive. Video conferencing and Screenshare functions make Skype popular in the corporate market. The Skype text chat client features group chat, chat history, message editing and emoticons. Skype also allows calls to landlines and mobile phones through a premium paid service.

Easy to use

The Skype user interface is very intuitive and easy to use. All the classic features of the messaging service such as profiles, online status, contacts and recent history are shown in the left navigation. Here you will also find the Skype directory, group options, a search box and premium call buttons. The right side (main window) opens the content you select. For individual contacts, you will see a text message box, chat history and call options.

Call quality

In fast Internet connections, the quality of Skype calls is excellent for both voice and video calls. The peer-to-peer client server hybrid system means that the sound quality is better than most VoIP services. That said, if you have a slower Internet connection, voice calls can be interrupted or delayed. The video calls will be intermittent and pixelated. Text chat will only be affected by very poor connections. The call quality button will provide you with detailed information on the quality of the expected call for each of your contacts (since the quality depends on the Internet connection of both parties).

Summary

If you are looking for a reliable and easy-to-use VoIP client, you will find it difficult to beat Skype. The purchase of Skype by Microsoft in 2011 further stabilized the platform and accelerated the development, as Microsoft used Skype to replace its old Windows Live Messenger messaging service. Click on the green download button to try it.



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