Skype’s new Meet Now feature offers free group video chats, just like Zoom

Skype's free group chat feature is here to compete with Zoom, but there's a catch.

Skype stepped up its service with a new feature called Meet Now that lets you start a video chat or meeting without having to sign up for an account or download the app to your desktop. This is Skype’s way of competing with Zoom, which saw a massive surge in users after coronavirus lockdowns and quarantines started — but has recently faced a number of security issues, including uninvited guests “Zoombombing” meetings.

Skype is owned by Microsoft, which has its own video chat platform for businesses called Microsoft Teams. But Skype’s Meet Now tool seems to be aimed at both consumers who want to chat with friends and family and small businesses looking for a cheaper solution.

There is, however, a catch. Meet Now is great for using on a laptop or desktop browser (it’s supported by the Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome browsers, but not Firefox). However, if you’re using it from a phone, you still need to download the Skype app — though you don’t need a Microsoft account, according to a company representative.

All of Skype’s usual meeting features will work on Meet Now calls, including the ability to share your screen, record a call, turn on the background blur feature and use the chat function.

The meeting links have no expiration date, so you can create them ahead of time and have people join any time, according to Skype. As long as you have the link, you can start the call, whether you created it or are just a participant. Links can be used again in the future — once you have it, you can use it to join the chat any time you want.

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