In an effort to stay relevant in a world of competitive messaging apps, Microsoft is starting to roll out a new feature in Skype to make the service more broadly accessible.
The new feature will enable users to invite anyone on a chat, even those who don’t have a Skype or Microsoft account to use the service through the Skype for Web interface. Guests don’t have to create a new account or download an app, but can instead join a chat simply by clicking a link.
As a part of this new feature, Skype is introducing unique links that can be used to invite others to chats. Users can choose to share the link through email or apps like Facebook, Messenger, Twitter or WhatsApp, or anywhere else that makes sense.
Skype account holders using the Web application, Mac or PC will be able to create the link, which, when clicked, will enable others, including those using Skype’s mobile apps on iOS or Android as well as non-users, to join in the conversation automatically.
In the case of those without Skype accounts, they’ll be able to enter their name and then click Join and then the linked parties can engage in text, voice or video chats.
According to Microsoft, the feature will be coming online for Skype users in the U.S. and U.K., but will be expanded to the rest of the world over the course of the next couple of weeks. To check if the option is available, users can launch the current version of Skype for Windows, Skype for Mac, or Skype for Web, then click “+New” to begin the chat and generate the unique, sharable link.
At the moment, the feature seems just like another way to get people together for a Skype conversation without having to worry whether or not the recipient has the app downloaded and installed.
Though the new feature is targeted towards casual users who want to communicate with their friends and family, it could impact the web conferencing space too. Business users who are looking to participate in less formal conversations with co-workers, partners or clients can make use of this new feature without requiring them to download the Skype client to their PCs or Macs. Skype does well enough for smaller meetings with a less participants who only need to chat, message, share files or screenshare, the option to invite anyone could boost its usage.