Skype 4.0: The basics made better

Skype has launched version 4.0 of its popular internet communications software for Windows PCs with improvements to the quality of calling and video streams.

Video is larger and clearer (Credit: Skype)

Skype today launched version 4.0 of its popular internet communications software for Windows PCs. Current users of Skype may not see significant changes in the way the client looks, but Skype promises the changes below the surface make this release more than an incremental update.

The big changes involve improving the basic functionality of the client, the nuts and bolts of audio and video streaming. Visually, the new client dedicates more screen real estate to video calling and messaging, with improved video streaming quality. The sound of calling is also improved with the use of a new Skype-developed audio codec.

According to Skype, part of this achievement is that the software also uses 50 per cent bandwidth to transmit the better quality audio. Skype 4.0 makes use of a bandwidth manager to stabilise the transmission through the various broadband fluctuations users may experience.

The user interface appears to include a bunch of nifty tweaks including the ability to separate different conversations into their own windows, and to see a contact's local time before dialling them. Skype also promises that this release will be the simplest to use yet, with wizards to guide users through basic set-up.

The Skype 4.0 client will be available to download for Windows from early tomorrow morning.

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