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Skype 3.0 beta coming today

Service adds click-to-call feature

Skype is preparing an upgrade of its free communications software that can automatically detect phone numbers in web pages and initiate calls.

Skype 3.0, which will be launched in a beta version today, also features community conference calls and text chats, as well as IT management features.

The new feature that recognises telephone numbers in a web page is called Click-to-call. It allows users to place calls to those numbers using the fee-based SkypeOut service.

Meanwhile, the IT capabilities will let network administrators remotely manage Skype deployments among their end users.

Two other new features are Skypecasts and public chats, which are conference calls and text chats in which people with a common interest can gather to communicate with each other.

Finally, the user interface has been modified to make it easier and simpler to find commands and perform actions.

This software upgrade reflects Skype's strategy of diversifying beyond voice-over-IP towards other modes of online communications and of finding new revenue streams beyond phone charges, said Niklas Zennström, Skype's chief executive officer and co-founder.

Eventually, the price of telephone calls will continue falling until they are free, so Skype needs to generate revenue from other sources like e-commerce and advertising, he said.

The internet telephony firm has about 136 million registered users in 200 countries, and adds around 250,000 users every day, according to the company. Its revenue is expected to more than triple this year to $195m (£102m).


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