Skype today released version 5.0 for Windows which looks quite cool...
but is also completely unusable to me.
First off, Skype 5.0 includes a brand new Facebook integration that wasn't in the beta program and, per Skype's blog post, let's you:
- see your Facebook News Feed in Skype
- post status updates that can be synced with your Skype mood message
- comment and like friends’ updates and wall posts
- call and SMS your Facebook friends on their mobile phones and landlines
- make a free Skype-to-Skype call if your Facebook friend is also a Skype contact
Phil Wolff over at Skype Journal walks through the new release (which is where I got the screenshot at right) and shows how the integration works. You have a new "Facebook tab" in the 5.0 Skype version that has both a "News Feed" and a "Phonebook" subtab.
From what I've heard from folks trying it out this morning, the Phonebook does a one-time import of all your Facebook contacts and then you can call or SMS them via their regular PSTN phone (if it's in their Facebook profile) or via Skype if they are a contact. I'm not clear on how you keep it up-to-date with your Facebook friend list ... but I'm going to assume there is a re-import or something like that.
UPDATE #1: Jim Courtney tells me that the Phonebook appears to refresh every time you go into it and he has verified himself that information gets updated. Chaim Haas also notes that there are buttons to call or SMS people directly from within the NewsFeed - so if you were reading your Facebook NewsFeed and wanted to call or text someone related to their item in your feed you could do so right then.
As a huge daily user of Skype, I find this integration rather cool since it will let me reach people directly from within the Skype interface where I spend my time. Given that I find myself doing more text/chat interaction these days instead of voice, I'm not entirely sure how much I'll use the Phonebook... BUT... it does get closer to having a single directory that I can reference.
Skype 5.0 also has the group video calling that has been in all the betas and some other changes outlined in this video from Skype:
I do, though, have one issue with the content of the video...
The Failure of Skype 5.0
... Rick Osterloh says that group video is now rolled out to all users, which, of course, is completely false.
Group video calling is being rolled out to all Windows users.
Skype continues to miss the rise of Apple and the fact that so many of the early adopter set long ago left Windows for MacOS X. They continue to follow the fractured and fragmented product strategy that I've ranted about at length in the past (also here).
It's the same tired old story.
I'm a huge fan of Skype and a heavy daily user. I do video calls with people pretty much every day. I currently have 87 Skype chats open to various people, teams, projects and groups in which I participate. The main phone number I give to people on my blogs rings through to Skype (and my cell).
I'm a paying Skype customer.
Yet I am also on a Mac.
Along with 140 other heavy Skype-users at my company. Along with a good number of friends in the blogging community. Along with a ton of people in the IETF and bleeding-edge communication community.
I would love to write here about how great Skype 5.0 is ... and I'd love to use it and give Skype feedback... but I can't.
I of course realize that from a resource prioritization point-of-view, Skype's largest market it Windows. I get that. It's just too bad Skype can't figure out a way to come out on both platforms so that "all users" on both Mac and Windows could experience the cool new features. (Particularly since many of the Mac world are exactly the kinds of folks who seek out (and promote) "cool new features.") Of course that still leaves the Skype for Linux users out, too... but it would be a start.
Perhaps one day Skype will see the cross-platform light.... meanwhile, if you're on Windows, you can head over to Skype.com and download 5.0 today.
Have fun with it - maybe someday others of us will get to play with it, too.
UPDATE #2: Skype lead blogger Peter Parkes mentioned to me that he put up a post on the Skype Mac blog today - undoubtedly because he knew he'd get flak like this from people like me. The post is basically a repeat of the last Mac blog post back in May... that group video will be coming, etc., etc. Peter does, though, promise:
we intend to give our app for Mac OS X a complete overhaul, both in terms of the way it looks, and in terms of functionality
We'll see what that means :-) Well, and when...
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