Earlier this week Skype released Skype 4.1 Beta bringing back a few features lost in Skype 4.0 and introducing screen sharing (previously available with Skype for Mac 2.8 beta). From Raul Liive’s introduction post:
Skype 4.1 Beta for Windows brings to you long hours of work from our audio and video team. They have introduced screen sharing functionality into Skype for Windows and in addition to that they have also worked hard on audio and video quality and reliability.
In addition to the updates to the audio and video engines (incorporating the SILK codec) , Skype 4.1 restores birthday reminders (if you want to keep your birthday private, simply don’t enter it into your Skype profile) and exchanging Skype contacts. One other feature: it embeds Skype’s browser toolbars for Firefox and Internet Explorer.
But to put some more perspective on screen sharing (shown below is a screen shared from a MacBook using Skype for Mac 2.8 beta):
Desktop sharing is simply an additional communication mode that complements voice and chat conversation:
- It’s a complementary communications mode to chat and voice conversations
- It uses the Skype video stream; as a result you can either send video or display your screen but not both concurrently. Clicking on the video camera icon while sharing your screen will terminate the desktop sharing; click on the video icon again and video will commence.
- It allows either full screen sharing or a selected region (but not specific windows)
- The viewing party can see either a window view or a full screen view
- It is a one-to-one collaboration tool for one-to-one conversations; recall that video calling only supports one-to-one calls
- It provides an excellent way to enhance a conversation when editing documents, making a PowerPoint presentation or demonstrating a design or support issue.
- Updates are almost instantaneous and “snappy”
- It is the only screen sharing that allows sharing of full video activity such as showing a YouTube video. This capability results from its use of the Skype video channel which can handle up to 30 fps.
- It is NOT a moderator-managed conferencing collaboration service for multi-participant discussions and presentations.
Having been a beta tester for the browser toolbars, I’ll discuss them in a separate post.
Recall that this is beta software; you can find the Release Notes outlining features, improvements and bugfixes in Raul’s post. Take heed; there may still be bugs; I have already reported one. To quote Raul again:
which means that it might sometimes not follow your orders, but instead act on it’s own. In case this happens, please let us know by commenting on [his] blog [post], posting on the forum or reporting issues on our public issue tracker.
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