Skype 5.8 for Windows is here!

The latest Skype release, version 5.8 for Windows has been released today. Microsoft has released the updated version which features new video calling capabilities and social media to the VOIP-based software. The update also fixes some bugs in the previous version.

Skype now supports HD video calls, screen shares between groups of people, push to talk buttons and a beta release of new support for calling Facebook friends over Skype (even if they're not Skype users).

HD video calling has some prerequisites. Users who want to make video calls on full HD, must have Logitech's C920's webcam because this webcam has HD video encoding support. The internet connection should be sufficient for the HD calls too - 2Mbps at least. If you are talking in a group and want to share your screen with everybody (and have them share their screens with you), then the latest version of Skype will allow you to do so.The push-to-talk capability ensures that users can designate a hotkey for the purpose of switching the microphone on and off. Usually, multiplayer gamers need this capability and Skype officially said that the most requests for a push-to-talk feature came from this category of users.

The best feature of the update is the support for calling friends on Facebook via voice or video. The beta version allows users to select a Facebook friend, and click on 'video call'. This makes a video connection to the friend, even if that friend is not a Skype user. This move is another step in Microsoft-Facebook collaboration which were initiated in 2011 when Facebook 'Likes' were integrated into Bing's search results. So if a user was searching for a pet store, for example, could see how his/her friends have 'liked' certain stores in the city.

Microsoft has further plans for integrating Skype into its services and products. It aims to integrate the VoIP-based service in Office 365, Lync and the XBox Live.

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