The latest beta version of Skype offers the ability to do group video calls with up to 10 people.
Skype 5.0 beta 2 runs on Windows and includes an updated user interface, the company said on its blog. The release doubles the number of people that can be included in a group video call from the five people allowed with Skype 5.0 beta 1, released in May.
Skype said the 10-person group video calling feature is being offered as a "free trial," suggesting users will eventually have to pay for the feature. To use the 10-person group video call feature, all participants in the call must be using Skype 5.0 beta 2. The company did not say when the feature would be available for Mac versions of the software. However, the company earlier promised group video calls for the Mac before the end of this year.
Skype does not currently offer a beta version of its software for Mac OS X
The announcement of the 10-person group video call feature comes as Skype, which is preparing for an initial public offering, faces new competition from Google, which added a feature to its Gmail service that allows users to make calls to phones. For now, Google is allowing users to call phones in the U.S. and Canada for free and charges a fee for calls to other countries.
Skype allows users to make free calls between computers and some handheld devices over the Internet, but charges a fee for users to call phones using its SkypeOut service. Video calls between computers made using Skype are free.