Skype is free proprietary software with a closed source code that provides text, voice, and video communications over the Internet between computers (IP-telephony), optionally using peer to peer technology, as well as paid services for calls to mobile and landline devices. Skype had had 663 million users by the end of 2010. Most developers and 44 % of employees work in the General Division of Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia.
The software also allows to make a conference call (up to 25 users, including the initiator) and video calls (including a video conference, up to 10 subscribers). In addition, it provides text messaging (IM), and file transfer. There is an opportunity to transmit video captured from user’s desktop instead of an video from a webcam, as well as to create and send video messages to users of the software desktop versions.
Software clients Skype released for Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Open webOS, PSP, Xbox 360, Maemo, PlayStation Vita, Blackberry, and Symbian. There is also a version for Java and for Kindle Fire HD.
The Skype Technologies Company was founded in 2003 by Swede Niklas Zennstremom and Dane Janus Friis. Estonian programmers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kazesalu, and Jaan Tallinn, who previously created file-sharing program KaZaA, participated in creating the Skype software.
The first version (0.97, 0.98) became available for downloading in the September-October 2003, on the site, declared as Swedish. The software had a simple interface that was originally adapted for the voice communication, in contrast to the messengers like ICQ and MSN Messenger. During installation, Skype chose the language of the locale Windows version and had a quick and simple registration form, in contrast to competing programs. The simplicity of installation and usability of the program quickly attracted the attention of a large number of users.
Version 1.2 first included the answering machine (Voicemail), and starting with version 1.3, any user could leave messages to other users, even if they did not use this service. In version 1.2, SkypeIn became available, which allows to connect Skype account with users’ phone number.
Starting with version 1.4, the opportunity to redirect calls to other Skype accounts, as well as landline phones, became available.
Version 2.0 introduced video calls, and since the version 2.5 user have had the ability to send SMS, organize SkypeCast (this technology is officially off with a Sept. 1, 2008), and integrate the software with Microsoft Outlook.
Version 3 introduced a SkypeFind service, which allowed users to create a list of companies and give them a description. He is now largely filled with spam.
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