Microsoft announced today that it has made the group video calling feature in Skype available to everyone on the Windows desktop, Mac and Xbox One clients for free. Previously, this feature required a Skype Premium subscription at a cost of $8.99 per month. That subscription has been ended because of this change.
Tracking Skype updates is particularly hard because Microsoft lets Skype announce them independently through a variety of weird blogs with indiscernible names like "Big Blog," "Garage & Updates," "Play," and the like. This announcement comes via a post to the Big Blog, of course: Skype Loves Bringing Groups Together – With FREE Group Video Calling. And rather than cut to the chase it starts with a narrative about the author being in a bike club.
I'm spare you the monotony of that story. Here is the pertinent bit.
"For the last few years, we've offered group video calling to Premium users on Windows desktop and Mac and more recently Xbox One," the post eventually notes. "Today, we're excited to announce that we're making group video calling free – for all users on these platforms. And, in the future, we'll be enabling group video calling for all our users across more platforms – at no cost."
Skype group video calling also enables screen sharing functionality. It works with 3 to 10 people, though Microsoft recommends 5 or fewer for the best performance.
With this change, Skype Premium is no longer available. But if you want to throw some money at Skype, you can still purchase various plans or Skype Credit for making phone calls domestically and internationally.