Skype has extended its service with a brand new feature called Meet Now that allows you to start a video chat or meeting without signing up for an account or downloading the app to your desktop. This is Skype's way to compete with Zoom, which saw a huge wave of users after coronavirus locks and quarantines started ̵
Skype is owned by Microsoft, which has its own video chat platform for companies called Microsoft Teams. But Skype's Meet Now tool seems to be targeting consumers who want to chat with friends and family as well as small businesses looking for a cheaper solution.
Read more: Zoom, Skype, FaceTime: 11 tips for your video chat apps
However, there is a catch. Meet Now is great for use on a laptop or desktop browser (it is supported by Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome browsers, but not Firefox). However, if you use it from a phone, you still need to download the Skype app, although you don't need a Microsoft account, according to a company representative.
All of Skype's usual meeting features 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 feature.
The meeting links don't have an expiration date, so you can create them in advance and have people join at any time, according to Skype. As long as you have the link, you can start the conversation, whether you made it or are just a participant. Links can be reused in the future – once you have it, you can use it to join the chat at any time.
Using Skype Meet Now to Video Chat
Go to Skype's new Meet Now landing page.
Click on Make a free meeting . A box will appear with a unique link and the option to share it by copying and pasting, or through Outlook or Gmail.
Start your conversation from the same box by clicking Start conversation . This works like other Skype calls in that you can't see anything until the other person signs in.
When the call opens, you will be asked to join as a guest or log in to your Skype account if you have one.
If you click Join as a guest, you will be asked to enter your name and click Join. You will be taken to a page with the other members you have invited where you can send messages via chat or start the conversation. Skype asks you for permission to use your camera and microphone.
When you sign in to your Skype account, you will see the chat window and the ability to start the conversation through the Skype app.
Learn more about how Skype and Zoom match and other Zoom alternatives for video chat.