Skype Gets Direct Link To Facebook

Microsoft's VoIP platform now allows face-to-face calling from within the social network for users of Windows and Mac OS.
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Social networking addicts who run the Windows or Mac clients for Microsoft's Skype VoIP platform can now launch a calling session without ever having to leave Facebook.

The new Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac and Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows clients, released Friday, allow Facebook-to-Facebook video calling over Skype from within the social network.

"This new development in the Skype-to-Facebook partnership is the latest example of how Skype is removing communications barriers and making it easier to connect with friends, family, and business colleagues," said Rick Osterloh, VP for products at Microsoft's Skype unit.

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"Our approach to social is about personal connections with people. We are on a mission to connect over one billion people and our continued partnership with Facebook brings us one step closer to this goal," said Osterloh, in a blog post.

Facebook and Skype first began working together earlier this year, before Microsoft closed its $8.5 billion acquisition of the video calling specialist, to develop integrated services.

To make Skype calls from within Facebook, users need to link their account to Skype. Then they can select any Friend and contact them by hitting the video call button in Skype. The recipient can also answer the call from within Facebook.

"This new feature lets you maintain social connections with your Facebook friends and complements previously announced features such as being able to see when your Facebook friends are online, read their status updates, and IM them all from Skype," said Osterloh.

The updated Skype clients for Mac and Windows also add a number of other new features. The Mac version includes video rendering technology that's designed to provide a clearer picture, while Windows users with a premium subscription get a new group screen sharing feature that allows several users to appear on screen at once.

Integration with Skype is just one of many ways in which Microsoft plans to extend Skype's reach and functionality.

Company officials have said Skype, or parts of it, will show up in everything from Office applications to the Xbox 360 platform. Microsoft also plans to integrate Skype into its Lync business collaboration suite.

The beta clients can be downloaded for free from the Skype Web site.