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What is Skype?

If you're asking 'what is Skype', this guide has all the answers so you can get straight into chatting with your friends and colleagues all around the world.

What is Skype: The classic blue Skype logo drop shadowed on a baby pink PT background

What is Skype? We’ve all seen that little blue Skittle-like icon floating around on the internet, and with the rise of remote jobs and long-distance relationships, ‘skyping someone’ has become a popular verb phrase. However, with the constantly evolving nature of the internet, it’s easy to get a bit lost sometimes. So, today we’ll take a look at what exactly Skype is, what you can use it for, and all of the different features it offers.

If you decide that this is the service for you, check out our Skype download. Or, to take a look at your other options, head over to our guides that answer the questions of what is Microsoft Teams, what is Discord, WhatsApp download, and what is Slack.

So grab your headset and make sure you’re not on mute because it’s time for us to answer all your burning Skype questions, starting with ‘what is Skype?

What is Skype?

In short, Skype is a VoIP (voice over IP) service that allows you to make and receive free video calls over the internet. You can also use it to send instant chat messages, share files, and join free video and voice one-to-one, group, or conference calls. Skype is available on computers, mobiles, and tablets through either an application or your web browser.

Skype allows you to chat with people all over the world, add people to your in-app contacts, and more. If the person you’re talking to also has a Skype account, calling them doesn’t cost any extra – but, for an extra charge, you can also call and text your non-Skype contacts on their phones.

Skype Communications first launched Skype in 2003, back in the early days of VoIP services. Microsoft has since acquired Skype, and now Skype Technologies (a Microsoft division) operates it. Since its initial rise to popularity, Skype has seen plenty of competition, with Zoom, Google Meet, and WhatsApp taking the lead in certain areas. However, Skype is still a popular service that many businesses, individuals, and creatives use on a daily basis.

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What are Skype’s main features?

Skype has plenty of handy features and continues to grow and evolve as it adds more. Here are some great parts of Skype to help you with a range of different tasks.

  • End-to-end encryption – rest assured that all communications on Skype are encrypted, meaning you don’t need to worry about unwanted visitors joining your call or peeking at your messages
  • Screen sharing – share your desktop with other people in video calls to help with productivity, troubleshooting, and training
  • Skype Translate – use the in-app, real-time translator to have conversations with people in other languages
  • Live subtitles – see a real-time, auto-generated transcript to keep track of conversations

What are Skype’s services?

Skype provides a variety of services for all of your personal, business, and creative needs. Here are some of the most notable.

  • Meet Now – allows you to create a meeting and share the link with the people you want to talk to
  • Skype Manager – allows you to allocate the credits you use for non-Skype calls and control what features are available to your business or household
  • Skype with Alexa – allows you to use Skype with the Amazon Echo digital assistant, Alexa
  • Skype with Outlook – allows you to use Skype from your Outlook email inbox

In addition to all this, Skype’s Premium plan offers a bunch of useful features and enhancements, including cloud-based business solutions.

How much does Skype cost?

Well, this all sounds great, right? But what about Skype prices? At its base level, Skype is completely free to download, and you can contact other Skype users for no extra cost. However, as mentioned above, there is a charge if you want to call or send messages to phone numbers and non-Skype users. You can pay as you go by purchasing Skype Credit, or you can set up a Skype subscription, similar to a phone plan.

Rates vary depending on how you intend to use Skype, but the monthly subscriptions cost from $3.59 USD / £2.40 GBP to $9.59 USD / £6.60 GBP a month. Check out the Skype payment page to work out which plan works best for you. You can cancel your Skype subscription at any time.

And there you have it, the answer to your question of ‘what is Skype?’ For more tech tips and troubleshooting, check out our guides on how to scan with iPhone, how to capture an Android screenshot, and how to perform an Android transfer to iPhone.