After a fairly long beta, Skype introduces version 4.0 for Windows users today. We first looked at this version in June. Back then there was a question about how well the user interface would fit on a smaller screen. I just installed Skype 4.0 on my MSI Wind, and the welcome screen doesn’t quite fit on the 1024×600 display. Luckily, I can see see the close button at the top right of the window, or I can use the new Windows 7 taskbar to close it.
The interface itself does fit nicely. Whew! In default mode (shown below), my contacts are on the left and the the other 66% of the client is for video calls. There is a Compact Mode that removes the large video call window, but even on a netbook, this might not be a necessity. It might be useful if I call you in my fleece top and Nike hat though…who wants to see that in a large window? ;)
It’s clear to me that Skype is targeting the mainstream audience here. The setup is simpler and there are easy-to-understand phrases pointing you in the right direction for making calls or using video. The whole client is more refined than it was a year or two ago and is sure to move beyond us geeks. I’m also impressed that Skype “just works” with my webcam on Windows 7.
Skype says the newest version offers more efficient performance: a new audio codec allows for richer and warmer sound but uses 50% less bandwidth. I’ll have do some more testing to see how a lower-end device handles the new version since far more bandwidth and processing power are used on the video side. At the moment, Skype is idle: using around 32MB of memory and practically no CPU. We’ll get some play time with it and report back on how it works on this configuration. My prior experience using full-screen Skype video on a netbook is less than optimal, so hopefully this version improves it.