Skype released Tuesday a free tool for small businesses so they can have video conferences involving up to 10 people and several useful features provide them a professional experience. After the first 60 days, Skype Meetings will only allow real-time audio and HD video conferencing with up to three people.

Anyone in the United States with a business email address can have access to this new free tool, which aims at showing some of the features available for large companies who are subscribed to Office 365 business plan. This service offers meetings with up to 250 participants and a feature to instant message co-workers through the platform all they long.

Skype Meetings can be used from any device that has a camera, microphone, and web browser. Image courtesy of windowscentral

However, Skype Meetings only offers the ability to instant message others during a meeting, but users will be able to get a professional space to coordinate their team without having to pay for a subscription.

Microsoft encourages growing companies to buy an Office 365 subscriptions to hold big meetings with more handy, professional features.

Users taking advantage of Skype Meetings can bring in other participants by using a hyperlink and the tool offers them the possibility to present a PowerPoint slide deck live. Waving over the presentation with a virtual laser pointer is also possible and users can even draw on it with digital ink so the experience can feel as real and comfortable as possible.

Meeting organizers can share their screen and get some “professional meeting controls,” including the ability to make everyone pay attention to just them by muting the audience.

Microsoft has tight competition in this field. Google’s Hangouts is becoming increasingly popular and will soon have more capable functionalities of chat and calling software, whereas Slack is developing calling features for its chat app. And earlier this year a more social-focused video chat app called Airtime was launched by a venture from Sean Parker, Napster co-founder.

Source: PC Magazine