Looking to save a few bucks on your videoconferencing needs? Microsoft has your back with Skype Meetings, essentially a lightweight version of Skype for Business. It's free to use for up to 10 people at at time (for the first 60 days, then it drops to 3 people), all you need is an Internet connection, web browser, speaker, and camera, all of which are bundled on most modern devices.
Skype Meetings provides small businesses with real-time audio and HD videoconferences. It also boasts collaboration features, such as the ability to share screens and content during meetings. When you setup a Skype Meeting, you can send out a personalized URL for others to click and join. And during the meeting, participants can IM, share their screen or PowerPoint presentation, and use the laser pointer and whiteboard features.
If you live in the U.S. and have a business email address at an organization that isn't already subscribed to Office 365, you can sign up for free Skype Meetings here. It's a bit of a bummer that the number of allowable participants drops to just 3 after 60 days, especially if you get used to having slightly larger videoconferences during the first 60 days in which up to 10 people can participate in Skype Meeting. However, you can't beat the price for smaller outfits.
Those who have an Office 365 business subscription already have access to Skype for Business, which offers a more robust experience with the ability to host meetings with up to 250 people. It also allows you to IM anyone in your organization at any time, not just during meetings, and it's integrated with other Office 365 apps such as Outlook and Word.
Ultimately that's what Microsoft wants. By giving users a taste of its videoconferencing capabilities through Skype, it hopes to draw in more subscribers to its Office 365 and Skype for Business offerings. Skype for Meetings also serves as a reminder that Google Hangouts isn't the only free option in town.