New Skype beta allows 100-user 'Skypecasts'

Skype has released a beta of its upcoming Skype 2.5 voice over IP software. The release previews a number of new features and additions, such as the ability to send SMS messages, a built-in localized payment feature, integration with Microsoft Outlook, and improved conference calling. Perhaps the most interesting feature, however, is an early preview of what Skype calls Skypecasts. This feature allows up to 100 users to participate in "live, moderated conversations" completely free of charge, with a host able to "pass the virtual microphone" to users as well as mute and kick out disruptive participants. Skype poises Skypecasting as a community building tool, and the company has even put up a special site that allows users to search, create, and share Skypecasts as well as browse through a number of featured selections.

Interestingly, unlike Skype's 10-user conference call feature, the ability to host Skypecasts doesn't seem to be restricted to users with Intel Pentium D or Core Duo processors. Perhaps the new feature isn't as demanding, or perhaps the fact that Skype was recently subpoenaed in the AMD vs. Intel antitrust trial had something to do with it. Nonetheless, users wishing to try out Skypecasting can download the Skype 2.5 beta here. Thanks to Ars Technica for the link.

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