Skype group video calls finally free on Windows, Mac desktops and Xbox

Users are allowed to make calls for up to 100 hours per month

Microsoft is now letting Skype users make group video calls for free via PCs, Macs and the Xbox.

For the last few years, Microsoft has been offering group video calling to premium Skype users for US$8.99 per month on Windows and Mac desktop and laptops and more recently the Xbox One. But with competing services like Google Hangouts offering the same functionality for free it has become increasingly difficult for Microsoft to charge for the feature.

On Monday, Microsoft relented and made the calls free for users on PCs, Macs and the Xbox One. The company plans to make group video calls available on other platforms, but didn't say which ones or when. Of particular interest are tablets, which have screens big enough to make room for multiple users at the same time.

The group video calls let users talk to up to 10 people, but Microsoft recommends calls with up to five people for the best quality.

The calls are subject to a fair usage limit of 100 hours per month with no more than 10 hours per day and a limit of 4 hours per individual video call, according to Microsoft. Once these limits have been reached, the video will switch off and the call will convert to an audio call, it said.

Skype Premium is currently being repacked and users are asked to check back for details.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Mikael Ricknäs

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