It is perhaps understandable that the Google Chromebook works superbly with Google’s own products and services, but can sometimes be reluctant to cooperate with other applications and services from different companies. This can be frustrating for customers and it is tempting to accuse the parent companies of only supporting their products in an interconnecting way, which is exactly how early computing companies used to run their business. Times have changed and now businesses are into designing cross-platforms applications and services, but there are some applications or services that simply do not run, or perhaps do not run well, on some platforms. Skype and the Chrome OS platform (so, Chromebooks for the most part). Skype is a Microsoft product and a competitor to Google’s Hangouts (or perhaps the other way around, seeing as Skype predates Hangouts); customers can run Skype on a smartphone, tablet or Windows computer, but Chromebooks were excluded from this party.
Ten days ago, Microsoft announced a limited release of Skype for Web for customers based in either the United States of America or the United Kingdom. The Skype for Web application allowed fast access to instant messages, video and voice calls without logging in on a mobile device – however, the service was not supported on the Chrome OS platform, which means that Chromebooks and Chromeboxes were excluded. We hoped that Skype for Web would support the Chrome OS platform without a workaround and that it wouldn’t take too long… and now ten days later, Microsoft have enabled compatibility and broadened the Skype for Web beta test across the rest of the world. The new beta supports thirty languages around the world. In the words of Microsoft’s post to the Skype Garage & Updates Blog: “Skype for Web is perfect if you normally use Skype on your mobile, but want to quickly get to your calls and IMs on a bigger screen. Or perhaps you’re sitting at a Windows or Mac computer in an internet caf© or hotel that doesn’t already have Skype downloaded … we’re doing it because the hundreds of millions of people that visit Skype.com every month told us they want to call and IM when they visit our website. We know how critical it is for you to get to your conversations – and Skype for Web helps you get connected anytime.”
Unfortunately, at this time the Chrome OS platform does not yet support audio and video chat; this requires a desktop version of the Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari or Firefox browser, plus the relevant plug-in, rather than the Chrome OS or other mobile browser. And whilst instant messaging works on the Chromebook platform, I would hasten to add that the service is still in a beta, so may not work as customers hope or expect. nevertheless, it’s great to see Microsoft developing their applications and services for competitor platforms.