Small businesses in the United States that don’t have Office 365 or Skype for Business can now set up free online video conference meetings for small groups of people via Skype.
By signing up for Microsoft’s new Skype Meetings, users with business email addresses can set up online get-togethers for up to 10 people during the first 60 days of service. After that trial period, Skype Meetings will support video conferences for up to three people at a time.
Announced yesterday by Microsoft, the new offering lets users automatically invite people to online meetings via personalized links. Links are generated after a user selects the email addresses of participants from a launch page that connects to Outlook, Gmail, Google Calendar or other email or calendar apps.
In addition to supporting real-time audio and video conferencing, Skype Meetings also lets participants instant message one another, use a laser pointer and whiteboard tools, and share screens or PowerPoint presentations. Meeting organizers can also mute other participants while leading their presentations.
Real-Life Meetings in Action
Yesterday’s Skype Meetings announcement on the Microsoft Office blog featured a two-minute video showing the conferencing platform in use at Ramona, California-based Solar Flight Inc. A maker of solar-powered aircraft, the company was shown using a Skype meeting to discuss ways of solving a propeller design problem with remote employees.
“Skype Meetings allows me to have face-to-face meetings with people that can’t be at my shop,” company president Eric Raymond said during the video. “It’s critical for rapid progress.”
At the end of the video, Raymond is shown making a follow-up video call with employees while flying one of his company’s solar-powered planes.
Competing with Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger
The free Skype Meetings offering is a scaled-back version of the service available to business customers with paid subscriptions to Microsoft’s…