Update: Good news! Skype says that Chrome on Chromebooks and non-Windows platforms can use Skype for Web for instant messaging, but not yet for voice and video because the plugin hasn’t been configured for them yet.
Skype has brought its instant messaging, voice and video chat service to the browser with a new beta available now. The Skype web client also allows anyone to sign in and use it their account when they’re on an unfamiliar or public computer, without having to be able to install native apps.
The Skype web app is designed to eventually work without any plug-ins, which again goes to the point of it being usable without install permissions, but initially it will require you to install a single small plug-in to get voice and video calls, while Skype works with Internet Explorer to bring Real-Time Communications (RTC) standards to that browser. It should sync up your various conversations and message status, and let you get chatting quickly, and it also lets you call friends with a single button press once you’ve installed that plug-in, on Chrome for Windows, IE, Firefox or Safari.
That list might have brought a tear to the eye of some reading this: Chrome is supported only on Windows initially, which means that it’s not yet the web-based Skype solution Chromebook owners have been waiting for. The app is still in Beta, however, so future updates could support a wider range of devices and operating systems, but based on the information currently made available from Skype, Chrome outside of Windows isn’t in the initial group of support.
Skype had already come to the web in one form thanks to a plug-in for Outlook.com launched globally earlier this year, which enabled text, video and voice chat through the company’s web-based email inbox service. This is the first time Skype has had its own web-based client, however, and the key ingredient here is that the company hopes to bring it to users without the need for plug-ins, though this initial deployment still does need that single software install.
The Skype web beta will roll out slowly to a limited number of users beginning today, so don’t be surprised if heading over to the site and signing in doesn’t take you directly to the web client. If you do get selected, logging in will provide you with a notification to try the beta, however.
We’ve reached out to Skype to find out more about Chrome support, why it’s limited to Windows and whether other platforms will be supported soon, and will update when we hear more.