Just a few months ago, I was using freeconference.com for conference calls and Windows Live Messenger for instant messaging, and wishing for a good tool to do screen sharing. That’s all behind me, thanks to Skype.
Skype is an awesome, free tool. The download is free: http://www.skype.com/ Simply download, create a Skype ID and start using it.
Most often, I use Skype to text chat with colleagues. Since users can set their status to available, away or busy, I rarely interrupt anyone with a Skype ping. With the Windows messenger I had issues connecting with people who used other IM clients; no issues with Skype.
Audio and video calls to other Skype users anywhere around the globe are free. For the most part, the connections are as clear or better than the connection I get on my cell phone. You can connect with one or many Skype users in a single call. Conference calls as as easy as picking who you want to connect with; Skype takes care of creating the multiple connections.
For the best audio results you will want to invest in a headset. I purchased a highly-rated headset by Logitech. If you do a lot of video conferencing, a webcam will provide you with good video and audio.
Even without a webcam, any audio connection can include screen sharing. All it takes is a click from the Share menu.
Today, I was IMing with my daughter and I learned another nifty feature. You can send files via Skype. She asked me to look at her resume and, poof, there it was as an attachment in our chat window. So cool!
The only feature that I have found with a cost is connecting via Skype to a land line. For this, you purchase credits. Also simple and easy, and the charges are minimal for calls.
I understand Skype does even more, but I haven’t had the chance to explore any other features. I am interested in your experiences and tips.