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Microsoft’s new Skype Meetings caters to the Office 365 Business crowd

If you use Office 365 for your business or think you might want to, Microsoft has some added incentive for you. The company has launched a web-based, business-focused videoconference service similar to the Skype app, called Skype Meetings. The big draw here is Office 365 integration for paid users. Anyone can use it for free, up to 10 people for the first 60 days, then three people thereafter unless you subscribe to Office 365 Business, as reported on The Verge.

If you don’t use Office 365 and have no plans to do so, you could still give Skype Meetings a trial run, just to see if there are any must-have tools or capabilities you suddenly can’t live without now that you know they exist. That’s a long shot, we know, but PowerPoint collaboration and screen sharing could make a difference for some businesses.

To set up a Skype meeting, simply send invitees a personalized link they can use with any internet-connected device. You can host an unlimited number of meetings within the 60-day trial period. During videoconferences, you can chat with other attendees and share files and screens — features you can find in other free videoconference software, though not always web-based, which is an advantage with Skype Meetings. Concurrent whiteboard editing is a nice additional feature, but PowerPoint uploading with annotation, highlighting, and a laser pointer is the biggest plum in the pie.

If you do the trial run and find you didn’t use it much, or never with more than three people, you’re fine as is. You’ll be limited to three attendees per meeting but everything else will work as before. If you’re already an Office 365 Business or Enterprise subscriber, Skype Meetings is included, so you’re good to go.

If, however, you’re not currently an Office 365 Business subscriber and you find that three people is not enough, and especially if during the 60-day trial your team began using Skype Meetings more and more, you could take a look at the Office 365 plans. They include full online versions of Microsoft Office, as well as Skype Meetings for up to 250 attendees. Prices start at $6 per user on a monthly subscription, or $60 per year.

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