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The Internet Communications

Skype 2.0 Adds Video 192

Golygydd Max writes "Skype is showing that there's life after the eBay purchase. Techworld reports that the company has just launched the beta of Skype 2.0, having added video to its telecommunication software. The company is already lagging behind the likes of AOL and MSN in offering this, but Skype must be hoping that the size of its user base will help it - its store is to start selling videocams almost immediately." The LA Times has a review from a 2.0 beta tester, if you're interested in a hands-on look.
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Skype 2.0 Adds Video

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  • Isn't this like yak for free [] previously covered by slashdot []? Seems Yak had it first.
  • I love Skype (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tsa ( 15680 )
    I live in Holland and I have a friend in Australia. I talk to him a lot via Skype. The sound quality is even better than with telephone, and it's a lot cheaper! Video will add a nice new dimension to the experience!

    BTW, FP!
  • Large user base? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Jotii ( 932365 )
    I don't see how Skype's "large user base" is going to help them to counter Skype lagging behind MSN. Aren't MSN's and ICQ's userb ases way larger?
    • Lagging behind? I can honestly say I don't know a single person that uses MSN or ICQ (I know a few who used to use ICQ a few years ago). But I know at least 30 people who use Skype almost every day.
      • by aussie_a ( 778472 )
        I can honestly say I don't know a single person that uses MSN or ICQ (I know a few who used to use ICQ a few years ago). But I know at least 30 people who use Skype almost every day.

        Yes, but I'd hardly consider the slashdot userbase (or their friends) a good sample of the internet population. Many slashdotters (no idea if you're one) zealously hate Microsoft and all of it's products. So it wouldn't be surprising to see them not using msn. However I'd hardly say that's indicative of internet users at large.
        • Agreed.
          I'd never tried skype before this week. I have an msn account, and and icq account. I mentioned Skype to a few friends that use MSN, and they'd never even heard of it. Both ends of the spectrum exist.
    • Aren't MSN's and ICQ's userb ases way larger?

      Now just what does the size of their posterior have to do with anything? I swear, you /. geeks track the strangest demographics.

  • by cybrthng ( 22291 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @09:51AM (#14156149) Journal
    • You're right. But try it today and remember how it was back then. The bandwith available today has nothing to do 28.8Kbps vs 2Mbps. Plus video compression algoritms are better today.

      Computer science is like fashion. Old stuff of yesterday with a little change is the big boom of today. The little change is what makes the big difference...
      • Isnt this always the way. Some pioneering company releases a technology that is far ahead of it's time but the hardware just isnt their to support it. A few years latter the technology reappears on a platform that is ready to support the concept. I can think of at least 10 or 20 examples of this. Makes you feel a bit sorry for the pioneers.

        Expect a massive VR resurrgance in a few years time.
      • Around 1993 or so, I was talking to a CS professor who was doing a lot of stuff with video and MBone. I mentioned that I was very interested in the work being done on video compression, and he scoffed a bit and said compression was totally unnecessary, as everyone would have gigabit ATM to the desktop within a few years.

    • actually its not. skype is one of its kind which uses p2p and has encrypted communication
      • People don't care how it works, just that it works. CUseeme used reflectors, broadcasting and other trickery to allow it to work fairly well on the technology we had back then.

        I'm more sarcastic in the views of video over phone or net as it isn't worth it, been done before and the transport method - in this case p2p isn't revolutionary anymore. I could link up multiple reflectors and broadcast my cuseeme nearly 10 years ago. THe actual quality of the video hasn't changed worth squat in all reality since
        • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:31AM (#14156979) Journal
          Wow. You have a very different memory of 1997 than I do.

          In my world, current video communication systems that work over the public internet are superior by orders of magnitude to their ancestors in terms of signal quality. That's in large measure due to the better availability of bandwidth across the board (and yes: contrary to your assertion, even upstream connectivity is faster than it was back then, unless you want to compare an upstream speed of, say, 385 kbps to your old 56K. modem.)

          I'm not a video expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I was peripherally involved in testing and evaluating video-via-network between 1997 and June of this year. In '97 we were swearing at CUSeeMe; in 2000, we were experimenting with video over ATM; by 2005 we were using everything from NetMeeting to dedicated Polycom systems with auto tracking cameras. Trust me, it's better now.
    • Now that video signals are transmitted with the P2P based traffic of Skype, nothing is stopping video phones, as in actual "regular" telephones, where you see a video of the Skype user. As in an enhanced video support for anyone using Skype. And there are already actual phones with built-in Skype support, so I don't see it as too far fetched. The implications are pretty big with Skype's landline support, usually for a cheaper cost than the cost for regular phone subscriptions.

      CUSeeMe was just a network desi
  • by xoip ( 920266 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @09:52AM (#14156158) Homepage
    Seriously, the only people who are into video calls have one hand on their hammer, the other on the keyboard. There are relatively few people who have the bandwidth to make a half decent video conference. Granted that will change.
    • by ady1 ( 873490 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:17AM (#14156347)
      As I Live in an underdeveloped county and have relatives abroad so I know that a very good portion of the video conferencing is used by parted families
    • Or, you know, use it to keep in touch with loved ones who live too far away to visit regularly -- my girlfriend lives in Japan, I live in California, and I actually went as far as to throw Windows on a spare box just for MSN video chat.

      And no, it's not 'that' kind of a phone call -- her webcam and computer live in the kitchen, and her parents already have enough in the way of reasons to not like me (e.g.: I'm not Japanese).
    • I guess you haven't tried video conferencing using iChat AV (Mac) or AOL Instant Messenger (PC) or iVisit (Mac/PC). They all work quite well. My parents and in-laws, who live more than a thousand miles away, can get to chat with their 1-year-old grandson and actually keep up with all the little ways he grows up each week.

      Seriously, the quality of (especially Mac-to-Mac) video chatting is unbelievable. I remember watching Star Trek TNG in the 80s-90s and telling myself, "yeah, like we'll every be able to
  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @09:55AM (#14156178) Journal
    The video phone has been around for some time now, although I don't know the price of it so that may have been responsible for it not being adopted, are video phones really wanted? They've never taken off for the normal phone, will they suddenly take off for VoIP?

    I can't see it myself. Plenty of programs have supported webcams, but in my experience most people don't use them, only a very small minority. So why is everyone clamouring to add this? Is it merely to say "look. We've got a new widget!"? Or is there truly demand for this, that I'm just ignorant of?
    • Yeah, I think there is very little demand for video phone. Video requires too much attention. When people are on the phone, they are usually doing something else. Watching TV, on the computer, dishes, something... Nobody wants to spend time on the phone and see someone. Granted, there are uses such as people who never get to see the people on the other end. But I don't think that actually seeing people adds anything to the whole phone experience.
      • Body language (Score:2, Insightful)

        I think there's a lot to be said for being able to see facial expressions when speaking with someone, and it also adds visual cues that can help if someone has a heavy accent.

        Also, I generally work in large multinational corporations, and it would be nice to know what the person on the other end of the line looks like. I think visual helps build relationships because it makes the other person seem more human.

        At my last job, we used to hold occasional team meetings in a video conference room, which everyone
    • It's just not made easy enough for the average home user. If all new laptops and monitors had a webcam and microphone built into the display and the software (MSN Messenger, AIM, Skype whatever) that is preinstalled can bust through firewalls (upnp), then I think adoption would be much greater.

      I'm hoping that Vonage, Packet8, and other VoIP folks can start using a video standard rather than their own concoctions.
      • iChat AV has video conferencing. My mobile 'phone has video calling. Prior to this, I have used more complicated video conferencing solutions. Making a video call with iChat is as simple as clicking on the camera icon next to someone's name. Making a video call with my 'phone is as simple as an audio call. I have never used either of these features, because they don't add anything useful. Being in the same room as someone is much better being on the telephone to them[1], but a video call is not often
    • Plenty of IM clients have supported audio too but until Skype nobody ever really used it.
    • by sbryant ( 93075 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:33AM (#14156464)

      You don't have kids, do you? If you don't live so close to your parents, you'll find yourself the "videophone" so they can see their grandchildren. Then, once you have it anyway, it's nice to be able to see friends and relatives. Usage depends on how good (smooth) the implementation is. It's not a must-have, but it does grow on you.

      I've been using the free video plugin for Skype for quite a while now. It wasn't bad, but it did go a little weird every now and then (lost the camera etc). I'm hoping that the integrated version will be better.

      -- Steve

    • There is certainly a demand for good p2p video to support live distance learning.

      Imagine the cost savings of conducting training online as opposed to flying a few executives to a central location to get trained.

      Such training would need to be supplimented by other resources, but as someone who has done a lot of e-learning and technical training, I can tell you I've been specifically asked for technology such as this to support some of our trainers.
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @09:55AM (#14156180)
    I am no Skype user but would like to know how Skype is doing on the Linux platform. I know they had a QT/KDE client. Any reviews?
    • As someone else works nice on Debian/Unstable...but I had to make a tweaked/faked package due to dependancy problems. Skype depends on a package that has another name under Debian...*sighs*
    • by tsetem ( 59788 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:28AM (#14156424)
      It works ok, but has some oddities:

      1) Only uses OSS, not Alsa. So it's not always happy sharing the sound device. (You can use OSS emulation, but still, not quite that happy)
      2) Occaisionally forgets my configuration and won't let me log in. I've seen posts, that say the solution is to whack your .skype config directory. Kind of annoying, but once I do that, it's happy and lets me reconnect.

      I'd love to see Skype 2.0 working under Linux, but even more importantly, I'd love to see an Alsa version and see if my experience is better.

      My biggest gripe is that I use it to talk to my brother when gaming (instead of Teamspeak). For the whole once a week we game, it's fine. But under Linux, I can't run my game & talk on Skype. So I've got to boot into Windows to game.

      But if you want to use skype to only talk, and not game, it's certainly fine for that.
    • With regard to voice quality, don't expect to run skype well on a 400 Mhz. I even had quality problems with a 750Mhz machine. At least that's not my experience.

      Gnomemeeting is much less resource hungry.
  • gimme gimme gimme (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaPoulpe ( 795028 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @09:57AM (#14156187) Homepage Journal
    A multi-platform Video Skype and you got yourself something way cooler than Msn nor Yahoo Messenger largest user base or not.
    • How about a single, open standards base that allows any platform to make themselves way cooler than MSN, Yahoo, AOL, or Google.

      Oh wait, that's called XMPP, SIP, and H.232 technologies.

      See: []

      • Don't get me wrong I'm no Skype fanboy.

        I'd love to use some free software project that allows me to hear & see my friends regardless of their OS, that would be for the best.

        But at the same time people have already at least a msn and a skype/yahoo/aol/talk account, can't see them opening another one just "for the geek" (aka me)..

        Skype is widespread and close to have fully working clients on the big three Windows/Linux/OSX, maybe not the best but could it be good enough ?

  • Finally! now i can utilise by blistering 32K connection :P
  • by ( 102718 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:04AM (#14156243) Homepage
    Unless it works with the 3G video phones all kids between 15 and 25 years old are buying these day, then it is just 15 year old tech in new cans.

    Full skype-in / skype-out to 3G phone would be the ting to move it to the next level.

    (I live in Denmark)
    • I don't see 15 years olds actually *using* video phones though.. they like to own them because it's the latest cool item.

      3G Video has been widely available for 2-3 years and it's not exactly taken the world by storm... I don't see this doing it either. It seems most people don't *want* video, despite the way various companies keep trying to push it as the 'next big thing'.
  • Skype line quality (Score:5, Informative)

    by edxwelch ( 600979 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:07AM (#14156266)
    Skype doesn't work nearly as well as they claim it does. There is always a time lag effect. The person on the other end of the line only hears what you have said after a certain delay. The amount of time lag depends on what day you call.. there are good Skype days and bad Skype days. On good Skype days the time lag can be so small that you hardly notice and it's nearly as good as a normal telephone line (although still both people won't be able to talk at the same time). On bad Skype days it's nearly impossible to have a conversation - better off just hanging up and trying on a different day. Bad Skype days usually happen when the internet is going very slow.
    • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:14AM (#14156315) Homepage
      I never had a bad Skype day. In my experience the quality depends mostly on the equipment used and how far the microphone is placed from the speakers. I must say I only skype with people that also use a computer though, so no telephone.
      • I talk to my friends in Finland all the time using SkypeIn and SkypeOut and have no more delay that I would with a regular cell phone. In fact the last time I was in Helsinki, I called one of my friends on her cell phone who was sitting across the table from me at an internet cafe and the delay was almost non-existant.
    • "the internet is going very slow"

      Seriously, man, didn't you get the email about the internet cleaning days?
    • I routinely experience these sort of problems and it seems worse with SkypeIn or SkypeOut than Skype to Skype. It also is significantly worse with the Mac or Linux client.

      Often it helps to force Skype to re-figure out its routing... although I don't remember how to do it off the top of my head.
    • That's your opinion. I've spent hundreds of hours on skype (mainly gaming) in the last year, sometimes in 3-man conference and lag has never been an issue. Then again I'm on a very good cable 5.1 Mbps cable modem connection with 50ms latencies to the servers I play on.

      Maybe the problem is your internet access/provider, and not skype.
      • I've found it works a lot better talking to my sister in England than to my parents in New York (I'm in Illinois). Echo cancellation is also almost non-existent - with iChat, I can talk just fine in speaker-phone-mode (both my sister and dad have iMacs with built-in microphones). With Skype, I can't see using it unless both sides have headsets.

        I did find using Skype to talk to toll-free numbers in England to be extremely helpful, though!

    • Side-note: does anyone know what topology skype uses for conference calls? I know they all have to make tradeoffs between bandwidth and latency and I was just wondering what it used.
    • That almost as if the information is traveling along an infrastructure of some sort rather than just teleporting...
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:09AM (#14156279)
    Since eBay now owns Skype, maybe they should integrate this video technology into eBay so you can get a video of what you are purchasing.

    This would help when buying big-ticket items on eBay. The ability to view a house or piece of property on video would probably increase the interest and sales.
    • WTF does Skype video have to do with someone wanting to see a video of something they are buying? Absolutely nothing, thats what. Are you really suggesting that people should have live video feeds attached to an ebay auction for a car or a house or whatever? Sheesh.
  • I've setup an Asterisk server and gotten pretty good audio quality over SIP. A bonus is there are already a variety of SIP soft phones, some open, others not, available for most platforms. I don't know if SIP currently supports video, but I wouldn't expect it to be too long before it does. I'll wait for video over SIP to take off. Heck, I don't even have a webcam....
    • Re:I'll wait for SIP (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )
      Yes it does. SIP is just a session protocol, you can send anything over it.

      Asterisk also supports video over SIP and has done for years. There just aren't many phones about that do it (I think cisco do one).
    • Re:I'll wait for SIP (Score:2, Informative)

      by beasstman ( 462291 )
      There are a large number of SIP endpoints that support Video (as an earlier poster said, SIP, is simply an open, IETF standard to set up the session for media)

      Checkout or -- both make (commercially) SIP soft devices that support video.
  • I've forgotten my LA Times log-in so I haven't read that review. But I'm interested in what others are using for video-conferencing, as I hope to set up several PCs this Christmas so my daughter can see her grandparents more often. All users involved will be pretty unsophisticated.

    I bought Logitech webcams, but they don't include video conferencing software. Instead they have a link to Logitech's $x/month service. I don't have any idea why such a service is better than a direct connection, so I'm tryi
    • I tried Festoon back when it was vSkype (I guess Skype made them change their name when they decided to do video themselves). It looked OK, but didn't support my video camera as the input device. Spontania [] did support it, so I set my parents in law up with that and a webcam so they can see their grandchild as I follow him around the room with the camcorder. It would be nice to have an integrated solution as we sometimes have difficulties with spontania not picking up the call from skype, which means 10 minu
    • I've forgotten my LA Times log-in

      Try fuckthis/fuckthis or in this case

      I create it whenever I find it doesn't exist. Apparently so do lots of other people ;-)

      Join the fuckthis-membership meme!


  • 512 kBit/s bandwith? (Score:3, Informative)

    by raudi ( 620865 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:17AM (#14156344)
    On the german newsticker [] it was stated that a "ADSL-Line with 512 kBit/s" is needed. everybody is wondering if they mean a ADSL with 512kBit/s downstream or if they realy need a bandwith of 512kBit/s. any clues? any official information on what bandwith is needed? anybody already tested it? cheers raudi
  • Cool, skype cams in young swedish blond's bedrooms!
    I can't wait till skype approaches the depths of depravity that every other camera enabled conf system resides in.

    Is it just me or is the net only used for pron?

    Hmm, nope it's not just me, the net is in fact the largest pron distribution machine in the world.

  • Alot of posts mention that this isn't exactly a new technology. Well of course that is true, people have been successfully using video chat for years, but I think what is important is that Skype makes this process simple and more accessible to the masses.

    Of course MacOsX has some very easy to use video chat abilities, but Skype takes this even further by providing SDK/API for developers to build off of their technology.

    Personally I'll most likely keep using other software packages, but I am very happ
  • is there a beta for linux with video?? I hope it integrates ALSA sound this time ....
  • Finally, a piece of software that delivers video chat to both Mac, Linux and Windows users.
    I'm so tired of trying out stinking Messenger clones on my Mac that barely works, since Microsoft has decided not to include video in Messenger for Mac.

    I'm all for open standards, but Skype delivers to my needs.
    Thank you Skype. (Now all you have to do is make the new beta available for my precious PowerBook.)
    • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:34AM (#14156478) Homepage
      Skype 2.0 is not currently available for mac and linux.

      Since the version 1 skype never came out of beta for linux it's debatable whether there will *ever* be a linux version.

      Anyway it's hardly the first cross platform video communication program - there are literally hundreds of the damned things.
    • As a Mac and Skype user I have to disagree. The Mac version of Skype has always lagged behind the Windows version and it sucks egregiously in strange and mysterious ways. So much so I have an old laptop running WinXP and Skype is the *only* thing I use it for.
    • by el_womble ( 779715 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:46AM (#14156573) Homepage
      I expect Mac and Linux support are a bit of a way off, but after seeing Jake2, my faith in Java has been renewed... why not create a Java client?

      Instant cross-platformy goodness (all be it wrapped in proprietary Sun licence badness)

      If they can render Quake 2 at 260 fps then video at 15fps has got to be easy... doesn't it? Just make sure its rendered in jogl and joal rather than evil Swing. The one sticking point I can see is getting the data from the camera in Java... any thoughts?

  • Most important... (Score:5, Informative)

    by b0bby ( 201198 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:39AM (#14156517)
    I've been waiting for this, simply because I haven't found a good way for two people behind NAT to do video chat without some subscription fee. The NAT traversal in Skype seems to me to be the kicker, because it lets you connect easily without forwarding ports. Am I just an idiot, and there are other video chat programs that do this for free between say, XP & 2000 machines?
    • There is the video and audio chat in Yahoo Internet Messenger (which I have used for chats between the US and Baghdad), and also there is video in AIM (but only for Windows XP). I'm currently watching my puppies who are at home from work right now using Yahoo Internet Messenger.
    • MSN Messenger... Some people will laugh, but I've never had a problem with it traversing my LAN, and the video quality is on par with anything else I've seen.. the camera seems to be the limiting factor. When are they going to make some decent high resolution cameras that can run at more than 1 frame per shutterbutton click? (Meaning I'd like either my digital camera to be usable as a webcam, or my webcam to get on par with my digital camera quality).
  • by geirt ( 55254 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @10:46AM (#14156572)

    I have been using skype on linux for a while now, but the Linux support is getting worse.

    Skype does not support ALSA, causing all kinds [] of [] weird [] problems []. There is a bug [] in skype that require a restart after any voice call (it does not close /dev/dsp after use). These problems should have been fixed a long time ago.

    I am actively searching for a better solution.

  • Finally... (Score:2, Funny)

    by null-sRc ( 593143 )
    ... I can see the face of the person that's calling me at 4:00am in the morning from Egypt... just to see the expression on their face as they see I'm not a horney little girl but instead an angry half naked hairey man.
  • by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:15AM (#14156832)
    Skype is a godsend for those of us living in developing countries, since Skype Out enables users to call regular telephones. The rates are dependent on the destination of the call, not the origin - an interesting (and logical) twist on normal telecom rates thanks to internet telephony. Now the rates aren't bad if you're calling a western country - less than 2 cents a minute to call the states, for example - but the rates are still brutal when calling non-western countries. For example, I am living in the Middle East and calling Dubai (which is right next door) costs 22 cents a minute, about 15 times more than calling the states. And the UAE is essentially a fully developed country. I shudder to think what it would cost to call Nigeria or Bangladesh.

    This is a shame, in my opinion, because it quashes the internet's promise to break the stranglehold that the regular/government telecoms have over citizens. The ISPs in some countries in this region, for example, have skype's website blocked specifically to prevent people from paying the normal $2.50+/minute rates to call Europe or the states.

    If technology is going to fulfill its promise to lift the burden off of those struggling in developing countries, companies like Skype would do well to do a better job of leveling the playing field - price differentials of a factor of 15 just seem downright unfair.

    • Is it cheaper than a normal phone call?

      For me, I call Japan a lot, and while it's more expensive than the states, I know that this is because the Japanese government levies all kinds of taxes -- things like, calling a normal phone line has the same cost as calling a U.S. phone, but calling a Japanese mobile costs almost $0.14 USD per minute!
    • Price gouging? Who rated it informative?

      It isn't free to connect to the local POTS. Skype has no choice but paying Etisalat, considered as the monopoly of telecommunication in UAE. Dailaround market is quite competitive, yet SkypeOut's price to UAE is lower than many of the dailaround offering. Price gouging?

      That's not price gouging by Skype. If it's anything, it's Etisalat exercising it's monopoly power. Skype is in no position to level the playing field, other than letting you have free Skype-Skype calls
  • by fussili ( 720463 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:43AM (#14157102)
    Skype is going to have to be pretty insanely phenomenal to come close to iChat AV.

    iChat's Audio Conferencing lags behind Skype but its Video Conferencing (4 way no less) is just crazily good. Apple built iChat from the ground up using the powerful Quicktime 7 implementation in 10.4 and it shows.

    I'd used plenty of Video Chat products but iChat was the first time I got the feeling that the technology had reached "Batman" standards.

    (Oh sure Batman, it takes you a day to decrypt some stupid riddle, you use a massive magnifying glass to spot a buoy on a bit photograph of the ocean and your computer is a selection of flashing lights without a graphical or even command line interface but perfect quality video conferencing? Piece of cake!)
    • How do you do 4-way video conferencing with iChat? As soon as I am in a video chat with someone else (one-way or two-way), both of us are marked unavailable for audio/video, and neither of us can initiate another chat (audio or video). We can still do IM, of course.

      iChat doesn't seem able to traverse two NAT routers properly (without doing port forwarding or DMZ tricks), and I'm not sure why not. It should be a simple matter of sending a packet to the server you're both talking to, which notifies the ot

  • BugMeNot (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheoMurpse ( 729043 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @11:55AM (#14157245) Homepage
    pwd: vapidcity
  • We've kicked the tyres a bit [], and it's pretty good. Shame it doesn't work on Linux or Mac, but Skype tells us these versions are on the way...
    • Here's what we managed to get out of Skype []. We asked about future plans for other platforms - and anything else we could think of.

      "Today video calling is only for Windows, but our strategy in the past has been to roll out on other platforms reasonably soon," said James Bilefield, Skype's vice president of business development. "It depends on feedback and testing - and we have dedicated teams on those platforms."

      The clear message there is to start bugging Skype to support other platforms.

I came, I saw, I deleted all your files.