A new version of Skype for Windows just launched with a few notable features. To start with, stability has been improved as has quality. Unfortunately, the group video calling feature is no longer free now that the version 5.1 software is out of beta. A day pass costs $4.99 / €3.49 / £2.99 for impromptu sessions while a monthly subscription can be had for $8.99 / €5.99 / £4.99 with a 33 percent discount available to anyone signing up for 3 or 12 month subscriptions over the next 30 days. Two-way video calling is still free. Maybe the emotive, slow-motion video posted after the break will convince you or your business to unload a few sheckles for the the privilege of group video.

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Do More Together Wherever You Are with Skype Group Video Calling

Skype Launches New Premium Package

2011 International CES
LAS VEGAS, Nev.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Skype has officially launched group video calling for consumers and enterprises, allowing people to do more together wherever they are. Whether you're looking to bring your family together on a video call or better connect with work colleagues across the globe, group video calling makes it easy to bring to together groups of three or more on a single video call. Video calling accounted for approximately 41.5% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes in the second half of 2010.

Group video calling is available as part of the new Premium package from Skype which offers group video calling together with access to live chat customer support as a day pass for $4.99 (€3.49/£2.99)* or as a monthly subscription for $8.99 (€5.99/£4.99)* per month. Skype users who sign up for group video calling in the first month it's available will receive a 33 percent discount on 3 and 12-month subscriptions. New users receive a 7-day free trial. In addition, consumers who sign up for group video calling will receive a 25 percent discount off an HD webcam.

Group video calling is also available in the new Business version of Skype, a desktop application for PCs, which gives enterprises the ability to control how Skype is used within the workplace, with the capacity to turn off or configure a variety of Skype settings. With group video calling, enterprises can easily set up real-time, face-to-face meetings and work in more collaborative and productive ways. For enterprises using Skype Manager who sign up for Group Video Calling, they will receive a 33 percent discount when signing up for a 3 or 12 month subscription. In addition, they will receive a 15 percent discount off of a headset and speakerphone bundle.

Group video calling has brought together family, friends and work colleagues like never before, such as a Spanish family who were reunited after 6 years apart, the Global Learning Exchange who brought together classrooms from Singapore and Bakersfield, CA and companies like ePromos who can better collaborate with remote co-workers and suppliers.

To start a group video call, only one member of the call needs to have activated the seven-day free trial or to have signed up for a day pass or monthly subscription using Skype for Windows 5.1. For all participants to receive video, they need to be on at least the 5.0 version of Mac and windows. Skype video calls between two parties will continue to be offered as a free product.

Resources for Media:

Case studies on how consumers and organizations are benefiting from group video calling today
Screenshots of group video calling and other Skype products
Video of how businesses can use group video calling
*Pricing is VAT exclusive. Pricing inclusive of VAT for a day pass is $5.74 (€4.01/£3.44) and for a monthly subscription $10.34 (€6.89/£5.74). A fair usage policy applies.

About Skype
Skype is the world's communications platform whose purpose is to break down barriers to communication. With an Internet-connected device, families, friends and colleagues can get together for free with messaging, voice and video. At low cost, they can also call landlines or mobiles virtually anywhere in the world. Skype has recently introduced group video, allowing groups of more than two people to do things together whenever they're apart.

Founded in 2003 and based in Luxembourg. Skype can be downloaded onto computers, mobile phones and other connected devices for free at www.skype.com.

You can get news and updates from Skype on its blog: blogs.skype.com
Twitter: twitter.com/skype or Facebook: www.facebook.com/skype

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Skype group video calling sheds beta as paid Skype Premium service