Skype for Web offers browser calls for US and UK

Skype for Web, the browser-based version of the popular voice and video messaging service, has rolled out across the US and UK. Revealed in beta at the tail-end of last year, the web app can effectively replace the standalone Skype client, delivering the same video, audio, and IM communications only through the browser. It could be useful, Microsoft says, for those using public computers while traveling, or when you're on a different machine and haven't the time (or the inclination, frankly) to install the full software.

That's not to say there isn't any installation involved. For Skype for Web to work, the browser requires a WebRTC plugin, the standard Microsoft is using for voice and video communication online.

WebRTC is expected to eventually be a standard part of browsers, but for the moment it's likely you'll need to install it manually the first time you use Skype for Web. Right now, it's supported in Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox on PC and Mac.

However Chromebooks won't work with Skype's plug-in, so while instant messaging chats can be accessed, for the moment calling can't.

The new service also introduces an updated UI. Whereas before Skype maintained two separate lists for contacts and recent conversations, in Skype for Web there's a combined timeline view.

That's searchable and, the Skype team claims, should make it easier to find existing conversations as well as begin new ones.

Microsoft says that the Skype for Web roll-out will continue across the world over the next few weeks. If you're in the US or the UK, you can try it today.

SOURCE Skype for Web