The folks over at Skype are hoping that you want to be a beta tester. Starting today, Skype 4.0 Beta 1 for Windows goes into public beta, and there are a number of significant changes in the new version.
The most noticeable transformation from the existing client to the new beta is a much lager default video window for video calls. (Skype estimates that about 25 percent of current Skype users use the software's video calling feature.) The user interface is being reworked a bit as well to make it easier to "resize and move your own video window around the screen" and to position your IM conversation window next to the video window. Also, instead of spreading all of your conversations across a multitude of Windows, the new interface now attempts to better organize the variety of concurrent conversations and tasks into a single window. If you want, however, you can still spread your conversations across multiple windows. The last big change is that the software now automatically detects when "Skype Certified hardware" is connected, such as USB headsets.
Not all the planned features are implemented yet in this beta. For instance, "full history and contact groups" are not enabled yet. A complete list of the new features as well as the yet-to-be-enabled ones, such as speed dial and the ability to turn off alerts, is located here.
Sten Tamkivi, General Manger of Skype Estonia (Skype's development team is based in Estonia), mentioned in his personal blog that he's "been using internal versions of the next generation client primarily for almost half a year now." He also implores users to "start giving feedback on things you like and things you don't. This multi-stage beta program of a radical redesign is very special for Skype, so I promise you - feedback will be listened to and even slicker beta 2 will follow." The request for user feedback is reiterated on the official Skype blog page as well.
Users looking to get their hands on the Skype 4.0 Beta 1 for Windows can download it from here here.