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CNET First Look
Facebook launches video chatThe world's largest social network makes a deal with Skype to bring person-to-person video calling to all its users.
Comb your hair and try to look nice, Facebook is doubling down on its person-to-person communication tools. It starts with the way you see other online Facebook users. Everyone using the computer with a large or wide screen will notice that face has taken notice of who's online and move it to a side far, reinforcing the fact the Facebook is place to connect with friends and real time. Not only there's a side bar make Facebook more alive, but there's a bit more you can do with your friends who hare online with you, in particular, video chat. Facebook has partnered with Skype and you can start a person-to-person video call from within a Facebook web page. You do need to install a small executable on your PC or Mac, but the key point is that you don't need a client app. This all works within the browser. It's fast and easy to get a video call going even if in early testing we did have some audio sync problem, but if you want to video chatting with friends or relatives who are not on Skype or more tactical service like Google, Facebook video is just a great solution. It is the easiest online video system to use and it also has the most users. There are over 750 million people on Facebook. There are few issues though. First, there is no integration with Skype even though the technology comes from Skype deal. Skype users cannot connect the people on Facebook or the other way. This will be added later and could make Facebook and Skype together the most important real time communications network on the planet, but is not here yet. Second, video conversations are person-to-person only. Those of you waiting to see how Facebook will tramp Google's new multi person video hang out feature on Google+, keep waiting. Facebook video was like Google talk the person-to-person video feature, not its cool new hangout. If you want to do video with a bunch of people all at once, stick to Google, and third, there is no mobile access for the video feature. It's another feature that's on the roadmap, but at the moment, mobile buddies can't play along. Facebook also just added a group chat feature, so you can huddle with a bunch of your friends at the same time in a real time conversation. Other instant message platforms that had group chat for a while, but again, when you build a feature into a Facebook, all of the sudden everyone is on it at once. The group chat features easy to use. You just click the tool icon and a person-to-person chat to add additional people and face will then open a new multi party chat window. It can get little hard to manage multiple chat conversations in Facebook at once though and with the multiparty chat that might become an issue for heavy users. These new chat features are here now and they are here for everybody. Facebook is unrolling them out in dribs and drabs like at other service. All Facebook users with camera at is can now do video calling and everyone can participate in the group chat. For CNET, I'm Rafe Needleman.