Using Skype in Your Browser

Skype for Web
Skype for Web. About.com

Downloading and installing Skype is a problem in certain contexts. For example, you may be on a computer that isn't yours and that doesn't have the app installed at a time when you badly need it. Skype has a version of its pioneering instant messaging and VoIP tool called Skype for Web for browsers. It works in most popular web browsers without the need of a plugin for voice and video calls.

Using Skype for Web 

Using Skype in a browser is straightforward. Just type web.skype.com in the browser address bar and go. The pale blue and white Skype interface you already know loads as a webpage, and you are prompted to log in with your usual Skype name and password. 

The supported web browsers are Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer 10 or later for Windows, Safari 6 or later for Macs, and recent versions of Chrome and Firefox.

Skype for Web is not available for mobile phones.

To use Skype for Web with Windows, you must be running Windows XP SP3 or higher, and on Macs, you must be running OS X Mavericks 10.9 or higher.

The Skype Web Plugin or Plugin-Free Experience

When Skype for Web first launched, you could use Skype for instant messaging and share multimedia files, but not as a VoIP tool. To make voice and video calls in most supported browsers, you needed to install a  plugin. When you first tried to initiate a call, you were prompted to download and install the Skype web plugin. With the Skype web plugin, you could make calls to landlines and mobile devices using your Skype contacts in Skype for Web, Outlook.com, Office 365, and any Skype application in your web browser.

Recently, Skype introduced plugin-free Skype for Web for its supported browsers, which does not require the download of a plugin for voice and video calls. However, the plugin remains available and can be installed if your browser isn't supported or if you are using an older version of a supported browser.

The Skype web plugin installs as a standalone program, so you only need to install it once, and it works with all your supported browsers. 

Skype for Web Features 

Skype is known for its rich list of features, and Skype for Web supports many of them. After logging in using a web browser, you can manage your contacts and use the instant messaging functions. You can chat and create and manage group chats. You can also share resources such as photos and multimedia documents. Installing the plugin (or using plugin-free Skype on a compatible browser) gives you voice and video call capability and video conferencing with up to 10 participants. Voice calls can be with up 25 participants. Group text chatting can have as many as 300 participants. As with the Skype app, these features are all free.

You can also make paid calls to numbers outside the Skype numbers. Use the dial pad to dial the number and choose the destination country from a list. A link to replenish your credit redirects you to the "buy credit" page. 

The call quality with the web version is comparable—if not equal—to the quality of the standalone app. Many factors affect call quality, so differences in quality between the two versions may not be because one is browser based. The call quality should theoretically be the same since the work is more on the server side, and the codecs used on the servers are the same throughout the network. 

The Interface

The Skype for Web interface is roughly the same with the same theme, a left-side panel for controls, and a right-side bigger pane for actual chats or calls. However, the details and sophistication are lower in the web version. The geeky settings and audio configurations are not present there. 

Should I Try It?

The web version worth trying, because it is free and simple. On any computer, open the browser, type web.skype.com, log in, and you are in your Skype account, able to communicate. This is handy when you are using a public computer or one that doesn't have Skype installed. It is also helpful in places where the connection is too slow for a Skype app installation.