Skype and Facebook build upon their friendship, integrate deeper

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Skype's friendship with Facebook just became more significant. The free-VoIP service Thursday launched Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac and Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows. The updated betas allow users to conduct a Facebook-to-Facebook video chat from within Skype, as well as to call Facebook friends, colleagues and business contacts without having to actually go to the Facebook site.

Video calls can be answered in either service, depending which one users are logged into. Once users link their Skype and Facebook accounts, the new releases continue to allows Skype users to send instant messages and to follow friends' status updates.

Skype said its update includes more robust video rendering, giving a smoother video experience for Mac users and group screen sharing for Windows users with a Premium subscription. Users who are chatting one-on-one will also be able to screen share with live video streaming.

The Facebook-Skype expansion shouldn't come as a surprise. In August, Neil Stevens, Skype's vice president and general manager of products and marketing, while discussing plans after Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) $8.5 billion acquisition of the company, said Skype would continue to evolve the relationship. Stevens said the companies would focus on rolling out their online video chat. Eventually, he said, they'd add the ability to make outbound landline calls from the social networking site, and to call into Facebook from Skype, which likely will be on a fee basis.

For more:
- see this Skype post

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