Microsoft seems to be continuing its policy under new CEO Satya Nadella of ensuring its services are used by a large number, even if it means letting go some revenue in the short-term. The latest move is by its popular video chatting app Skype, which is making its group video calling feature free for users on Windows, Mac, and Xbox One. The feature was previously available only to Skype Premium subscribers.
"Skype is proud that, since our beginning, we've created opportunities for people to communicate freely and easily, no matter where they are," Phillip Snalune, GM Consumer Marketing, Skype
Microsoft wrote in a blog post
"While Skype is known for one to one video calling, we know it's also essential to connect with the groups of people who matter most, whether friends, family or colleagues," he added. "For the last few years, we've offered group video calling to Premium users on Windows
desktop and Mac
and more recently Xbox One
. Today, we're excited to announce that we're making group video calling free - for all users on these platforms."
Snalune confirmed that the company will "be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms - at no cost".
It's worth pointing out that Google Hangouts has been offering this feature for free since launch. Both Skype group video calling and Google Hangouts limit the number of simultaneous users in a video call to 10, though Google offers a higher limit to business, government and educational users.
Of course Google Hangouts also have a Web-based client, which means it can be used without installing an app - it's not clear at this point if Skype's plans to bring the app to other platforms also include the Web.
Microsoft has been busy expanding its services to various platforms - even those from competitors - often at the cost of its bottom-line in the short-term. The company finally released Office for iPad
, a move that may have a negative impact on the sales of its own Surface tablets, while making editing documents free on Office for iPhone and Android