For users who want to connect with family and friends on Skype but would prefer to skip the need for a Microsoft Account to access the service received some good news this week from Microsoft.
By removing the Microsoft Account requirement, the Skype team is providing a means for anyone to use the Skype service and many of its free features plus the opportunity to include up to 300 participants in the discussion.
Included among those features are:
- Private text based chats
- Group Messaging
- Voice & video calls (maximum of 25 people per call)
- Screen Sharing
- File Sharing
There are however, a few limitations such as these Skype conversations only sticking around for 24 hours after which they will no longer be available. Of course, sign up for an account and you will be able to not only return to those chats but also use other features such as calling landline and mobile numbers or translating conversations in real time via Skype Translator.
To begin one of these Guest chats on Skype you have to visit Skype.com and select the Use Skype online option.
On the next screen enter your name and select the Start a conversation button.
The first chat window opens up with an option to copy the unique chat link so you can share it through social media and other communications channels and invite family and friends to join the conversation.
Once you copy that link the left sidebar will be replaced with the normal web based chat sidebar:
You can now chat with your guests and use all those free features I mentioned earlier in the article. When you are done just close the window but if you plan on returning to this chat keep the link handy.
To test this I left the web based chat and then used the chat's link to re-access it and after asking me if I wanted to switch to the Skype Preview app I selected to go back to the web interface. On a second test, I opted to open the Skype Preview app and I was able to participate in the conversation there as well. I can also confirm, thanks to some folks from Twitter (@Fusionfan45 & @nlamontg) who helped me test this out, that the Guest Skype Chats link you share can also be opened in the iOS, Android, and Windows 10 Mobile Skype clients. The Skype Guest chat also appears in the Outlook.com sidebar where other Skype conversations appear if you access them from there.
The free Skype Guest Chats must be initiated on the web but your guests will have the option to join through either the web or the Skype app on desktops and mobile devices. Even as the person who started the chat on the web, I was able to leave and rejoin it in my choice of app as well.
All very handy for sure but ultimately this is a gateway for Microsoft to get non Skype users trying out the platform and ultimately signing up for a Microsoft Account.
Just check out the two prompts in the web based interface for the Skype Guest Chats for getting a Microsoft Account:
Don't get me wrong, I think Skype is a great service. I know others have reported extensive issues with it but for me personally, I have not seen those things and I use the service daily. So getting a Microsoft Account to access all of the capabilities and features of Skype is a smart move if you like what you see through the free Skype Guest chats.
Will free access to a service without an account eventually lead you to sign up for a Microsoft Account?