Microsoft Corp. launched an alpha version of a new Linux client for its Skype chat and calling service, very tellingly named Skype for Linux Alpha. In a blog post Wednesday that announced the launch, the company said the client “is not a fully functioning Skype client yet” but had been launched anyway because it wants “to get it [the client] in your hands as soon as possible.”
Pointing out some of the differences between the new app and the version it replaces, the blog says users will “be using the latest, fast and responsive Skype UI, you can share files, photos and videos and send a whole new range of new emoticons.” The company is also asking for users to test the app and provide feedback so it can prioritize which features it should work on adding, improving or fixing.
Skype also seems keen on phasing out its older Linux client. Using the new alpha version, “you will be able to call your friends and family on the latest versions of Skype on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, but you won’t be able to make or receive calls to and from the previous versions of Skype for Linux (18.104.22.168).”
Linux users can download Skype for Linux Alpha from here.
Another feature announced Wednesday was the alpha version of Skype based on WebRTC (an interface that supports browser-to-browser communication without additional plugins). Using the same features as the new Linux client, it is targeted at users of Chromebook and Chrome on Linux. The offering for the Chrome browser will expand over the next few months to include landlines and cellphones as well, the company said.
If you have an existing Skype account, the WebRTC version can be accessed using this link.
Skype was first released in 2003 and Microsoft bought the company in 2011 for $8.5 billion.