Want to make a video call to a Skype contact, but don’t want to install Skype on your computer? Now you can just use your web browser. Well, maybe.

Skype launched a limited beta of Skype for Web last year, and now it’s open to anyone in the US or UK. But you’ll need to install a plugin and you’ll also need to be using a supported web browser and operating system.

skype for web_02

If you’re using Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer or Safari on a Mac or Windows computer, you should be good to go. Just login to your account from the Skype web page and then click the “Try Skype for Web (Beta) link.” Or you can go straight to Skype for Web by visiting web.skype.com.

The first time you run Skype for Web, you’ll be asked to install a plugin to enable voice and video calling. Without the plugin you can still write text messages to your contacts, but that’s it.

Since plugins aren’t available for Chrome OS or Linux, you’ll also have to make do with text-based communications if you want to use Skype for Web on a Chromebook … which is a shame, because honestly that’s the platform that would probably benefit most from a web-based Skype app since there’s no way to install a desktop Skype app on a Chromebook.

It’s possible that future versions of Skype for Web might be able to work on Chrome OS and Linux. The web app is designed to leverage the webRTC (real-time-communications) protocol, which means one day you might be able to use Skype for Web without installing a plugin.

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16 replies on “Now you can use Skype in a web browser (US and UK)”

    1. Sorry, I foolishly assumed that what was true for Chrome OS was also true for Linux. Guess I should have double checked.

      1. Oh, no worries, just checked it out since I thought that’d be handy. It’s nice to know it is different for ChromeOS! 🙂

        I tried it with a user agent switcher, and it loads fine for text on Linux if the browser claims to be Windows.

        1. Yes which makes perfect sense since the plugin is a windows only installable msi file and Linux doesn’t support those natively. You can of course install Firefox or Opera using Wine or just use Playonlinux for ease of installation then you can use and install the plugin and problem solved. Although why you would want to when you can simply install Skype on Linux.. Even if it is a self contained wine app, it still appears native.

          1. I have to disagree. It would make perfect sense if they blocked the video chat plugin which, as you say, is a MSI file and Linux needs to run those via wine, when it can at all.

            Changing the user agent just removes their ability to tell which browser you’re using; I always get annoyed when a site does that to stop you from accessing features. They may have had good intentions in doing it, but a warning banner or interstitial would have served just as well while still allowing Linux users to use the text chat (with notifications.)

      2. Chrome OS is the Chrome browser and all those add-ons you can install and use in the Chrome store, that’s it. It’s nothing like a regular Linux distro.

      1. That’s awesome! 🙂 I feel weird saying it, but … way to go, Microsoft.

      1. What I mean is, if you have to install something either way, then what benefit is the plugin over the dedicated app?

        1. One less app on your system… smaller overall install footprint and easier to turn off and make sure it’s not constantly running…

          The plugin is optional as well, as you only need it for the voice/video options but text messaging doesn’t require anything extra…

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