Skype Takes Another Shot at Version 4.0 With Its Second Beta
It is always nice when a company is listening to the press and its fans. In June, Skype released a new version of the popular VoIP/chat client. We wrote about the beta software at the time of announcement and had some doubts about it; our biggest being that the window sizing of the new software was just too large for smaller screen devices, like netbooks. I couldn’t stand that the contact list was connected to the chat/calling box, which took up a lot of screen real estate. Skype promised at the time that they would listen to user feedback and reaction to the new beta. And listen they did, even to me. I said in my original impressions post of 4.0 that “I wish it had a classic mode that could revert back to the settings that frequent Skype users are used to.” Today, Skype unveiled the second beta version of its 4.0 software (it will be available for public download tomorrow at 4p.m. EST) and lo and behold it has a “compact mode.” This time around, you can select the compact mode (from the View menu) which allows you to separate your contact list and from the chat windows. Hallelujah! I have been running the new version of Skype Beta 4.0 in compact mode for the day and think I am finally ready to give up on version 3. Not only does the compact mode save a lot of your desktop space but it also allows you to run a video call right from your chat window. I had a good video call with Todd Haselton while he was on the XOHM network in Baltimore. I was able to launch the video call right from the chat window and expand the video window to a full screen size mode, picture in picture layout or a picture on top of picture mode (see screenshot above). All the video controls, including volume and tweaking your settings are on the bottom panel of the chat window. Beyond the video calling and new client mode, the overall look and feel to the interface is sleek and easy to navigate. Got to hand it to Skype on this one. I’ve got to say I like the new client way better than the Skype commercial during NBC’s The Office this week. If only Pam and Jim could have used Skype to video call each other!