Microsoft today launched Skype Meetings, a free online meetings tool that offers small businesses real-time audio and HD video conferencing. The tool includes meeting controls so the organizer can mute the audience in order to be heard and collaboration tools like instant messaging, screen share, PowerPoint share, a laser pointer, and a whiteboard.
Skype Meetings lets you set up meetings and share a personalized URL for participants to easily join. The service requires a computer with a microphone, speaker, and camera.
For the first 60 days, meetings will be able to handle up to 10 people. After two months, though, Skype Meetings will only work with up to three people. It would appear that Microsoft is hoping the free Skype Meetings will help push small businesses toward considering Skype for Business, a more feature-filled video conferencing tool that costs $2.40 per user per month.
Skype for Business arrived for Windows in April 2015 and got a dedicated Windows Phone app in July 2015. An iOS mobile app followed in October 2015 and the Android version debuted in December 2015. A Mac preview launched in April 2016.
Skype Meetings is only available to U.S. users with a business email address and whose organization doesn’t already have Office 365. Those with Skype for Business have access to more features, including the ability to conduct large group meetings for up to 250 people, the ability to instant message anyone in your organization at any time, and integration with other Office 365 apps.
But for many businesses, if Skype is already getting the job done, Skype Meetings will be more than enough.