Skype working on developing video messaging feature and more

Skype has long been one of the world’s most well-recognized video conferencing systems thanks to its free services on a wide range of platforms. Users in areas all over the world have taken advantage of its video calling features to interact with friends, family, co-workers, and other parties from the comfort of their own homes or even on-the-go. Skype is now available on all types of personal computers, as well as most mobile phones and tablet computers. It’s one of the simplest tools out there for users interested in getting involved in video conferencing. Now, Skype is looking to add new features to its arsenal.

According to Telepresence Options, Skype is working on developing a video messaging system that would allow users to send video messages to other users. These messages work somewhat like voicemails or text messages and can be both sent and accessed at any time. It’s a great way for users to connect with each other even when the other might not be available. The system will be “similar in concept” to Microsoft’s old Windows Live concept, which has since been taken off of the market.

The article also mentions that Skype will be testing out a new “Metro” style UI, and it will be available to test on all platforms in the near future. The goal is to provide users with the cleanest, simplest, and most effective UI for getting things done without hassle.

These developments show some of Microsoft’s first steps towards making Skype their own product. After the multi-billion dollar acquisition some time ago, many have been eagerly watching to see what Microsoft will do with the well-known brand. Let’s hope these new additions are a success!

Microsoft patents TV-based home network video conferencing

If there’s anything we have learned over the past handful of years regarding the versatility of video conferencing technology, it’s that innovators and developers will continually be able to surprise us. There is a wide range of platforms through which people can use video conferencing services to connect with one another – presently, people are using PCs, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets to have video chats with one another. Now, Microsoft has patented a video conferencing setup that uses the TV as a display and a home network as the data infrastructure.

Microsoft asserts that the use of a TV will reduce latency related to connection compared to previous approaches to video conferencing. The assumption is that this is not an entirely new and flawless version of video chatting, but rather an incremental (but notable) development. The setup would use a home network as the Internet connection and it would connect a PC to a television with an inexpensive USB camera attached at the top to serve as the visual recorder. A remote desktop protocol would accelerate data exchange between the TV and the PC.

The setup is ideal for home-based video conferencing; it provides convenience and a potentially higher quality of service. What the press release does not discuss, however, is how audio will be handled; it could be assumed that a USB microphone could come into play at some point, however.

The patent is an interesting bit of news, to be sure, but we will have to keep our ears open for further information on what Microsoft plans to do with this idea. Their recent acquisition of Skype has put them near the forefront of discussions in the industry, so any moves they make will always be watched with a close eye. Stay tuned!

Cisco looks to appeal Microsoft-Skype deal

Last fall, the software giant Microsoft purchased the video conferencing service Skype in a remarkable $8.5 billion deal that created a new and powerful partnership in the field of telecommunications. Not everyone was happy about the acquisition, though. Other video conferencing companies and service providers have expressed discontent regarding the lack of a mandated open communications system that would allow Skype to connect with other video conferencing services. Now, Cisco – one of the video conferencing industry’s largest and most successful players – is challenging the European Union court’s approval of the deal. The Puget Sound Business Journal’s Lisa Sibley reports:

“San Jose-based networking equipment company Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) is suggesting that the EU should have mandated that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) use open standards for video communications to allow rival products to work smoothly with Skype.”

Because Skype has been a popular program for a number of years, many people have become well acquainted with the service and will continue to utilize it in their personal and professional lives regardless of who owns it. The concern from Cisco’s point of view is that the acquisition puts other companies at a severe disadvantage – having Skype as a program that only interacts well with Microsoft-based systems (such as Lync) seems, to some, an unfair advantage.

There are compelling arguments for both sides. From a business standpoint, it’s hard to say that Microsoft did anything wrong – in fact, from their point of view, the lack of open standards suits them just fine. It’s hard to say whether Cisco is appealing for any other reason than financial gain, but the sentiment is a sound one – interoperability in the field of video conferencing is absolutely crucial for the entire industry. Limiting the possibilities of the technology is not going to do anyone any favors in the future.

Video Collaboration Consortium Facilitates Stronger Communications

We’ve covered a number of stories involving video conferencing service providers and other related companies collaborating to offer customers more competitive and effective services that allow for remote communications. Recent news has shone light on a powerful team of partnerships known collectively as the Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC). Microsoft has recently teamed up with this consortium, along with many other video conferencing and technology service providers, to work with companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Polycom to offer better solutions for business video conferencing. The article on eWeek explains further:

“The goal of the group is to create services that enable businesses globally to communicate through video calls on standards-based and proprietary video platforms alike. The first services are expected to launch later this year. Microsoft’s addition as a board member is an important step for the organization, according to John Poole, vice president at OVCC and senior director of strategic business development for Polycom’s Global Cloud & Service Provider Solutions Group.”

The addition of Microsoft is an important step for the OVCC because it shows a software powerhouse supporting this particular consortium as a solution for unified communications services. With many of the video conferencing field’s major players now allied through the OVCC, we can hope to see some effective collaboration in the near future that will benefit users and developers alike.

Developing strong bonds between video conferencing service providers, network service providers, software developers, and other companies is an important step in creating fully functional systems with flexibility and durability. The OVCC should have a very positive impact on the video conferencing industry.