Microsoft brings Skype for Web into beta

Microsoft is beta testing a version of Skype that will work from a variety of browsers, and which ultimately will alleviate the need for Skype app or plug-in downloads.

Mary Jo Foley
Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network.
Mary Jo Foley

Skype for Web (Beta)
Skype for Web will work with Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Skype

Microsoft has started making available a beta of Skype that will run in Web browsers.

Microsoft's Skype for Web beta, announced on Friday, is aimed at users who want and need to use Skype without downloading the Skype app. The new version will work on Windows with Internet Explorer 10 or above, the latest versions of Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox browsers and on a Mac with Safari 6 or above.

Currently, users need to install a small plug-in in order to start a Skype conversation, but in the future, once Microsoft implements Web RTC (Real-Time Communications), no downloads or installs at all will be needed.

Since it currently requires a plug-in, the Skype for Web beta cannot work on Chromebooks, but once Web RTC is baked in, Skype for Web will work on Chromebooks, a company spokesperson confirmed.

Update: Actually, the situation is a bit more nuanced re: Chromebooks. The spokesperson provided the following update:

"Chromebook owners can use Skype for Web for IM, but the plug-in required for voice and video calls hasn't been configured for that device so it isn't currently supported."

According to a Skype blog post about the new beta, there are currently some battery-consumption issues with Skype for Web on a Mac and outgoing Skype calls can take longer than normal to ring. But those are known issues.

This story originally posted as "Microsoft starts rolling out Skype for Web beta" on ZDNet.