FROM THE HYPE, you'd have expected the Beta 2 release of Skype 4.0 for Windows to offer some kind of radical revision to the user interface. It doesn't.
Skype's Mike Bartlett claimed that the main objective with Beta 2 is to 'big up' Skype's non-voice capabilities. Like IM and SMS.
If that's the case, then his team had better go back to the drawing board because, in some instances, it is actually harder to find familiar Skype facilities.
The most striking difference between Skype 4.0 and previous versions is that the app now can take up the entire Windows screen.
This makes it far easier to view the contact details of the person you want to communicate with, for example.
It also makes it much easier to view and read the entirety of a chat session. The downside – and it's a big downside - is the text entry box.
It's now a pathetic little box right at the bottom of the screen and Skype's colour scheme makes it very easy to miss its existence entirely.
Incidentally the same box is used for creating an SMS (text) message to someone's handset. It provides a character count which works well.
The best feature from the INQ's view is the ability to switch from viewing
contacts' details in the sidebar over to 'conversations'.
Installing Beta 2.0 showed up some conversations which the INQ had previously missed.
Barlett claimed that something like 350,000 Skypers utilise the video feature on a daily basis – so offering a single click option to go to video makes sense.
The purpose of being able to easily create and manage Skype groups went straight over our head, however.
Overall, however, we would recommend installing this update. It should eventually be possible to ignore the irritating colour scheme, we suppose.
To get the new software go here. µ
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