I’ve been writing about Skype quite a bit and this week’s Marketwatch column highlights the project. This is the VOIP technology that now has at least 30 million users. It’s free!

But what are people’s experiences? Like any VOIP product the reviews are mixed. The only difference with Skype is that the glowing reviews are over-the-top glowing. This is definitely the way to keep in touch with overseas relatives.

Download a copy here
and play with it with friends and let me know what you think. (And don’t just start calling me just because you can!).

What I’ve learned so far is that it does not work well with a Mac.

  1. roborob says:

    Love it. While in the Caribbean, everyone else was paying $1 a minute to phone home ($.50 if you rent a prepaid cell phone there). I was paying $0.03 a minute to make calls, or free to my Skype-enabled friends and family. OK, voice quality isn’t always flawless, but neither is cell phone quality. Skype is perfect for checking voicemail at the very least. And I had to repeat something just as often on the marginal but expensive phone service as on Skype.

  2. Punster says:

    I use the free version of Skype for domestic calls in Finland to save a bit of money on my cell phone bills. Skype is usually reliable, but you do need stable and fast internet connection to use it, because if there’s a lot of users online at the same time Skype starts to lag and you get a few second delay on a slow connection. But since I don’ t use Skype for anything other than to blabber with my friends, I can live with a slower connection. And since the city I live in offers free wlan connection within the city, I can blabber absolutely free and of course mobile once the VoIP phones come to market.

    But without a relatively fast and stable connection I would not bet my life on Skype.

  3. Gary says:

    I’ve had Vonage for a year and just started playing with Skype a month ago, so I can give some comparisons. Skype is a much clearer sound than Vonage. There are some quirks with Skype, such as it takes a few seconds (maybe 5 or 6) before both parties seem to connect, resulting in a round of “can you hear me?” before the conversation starts. In my experience, Vonage has an acceptable sound, but not great. On headset people struggle to hear me on Vonage, whereas with Skype no problems. Some of the problems related to my less-than-ideal RoadRunner cable service (such as dropped calls for both), but I’m strongly considering dumping Vonage at some point (world’s worst customer service and I’ve experienced a decline in the call quality over time) and go with Skype/SkypeIn as a replacement.

  4. Luke Reeves says:

    Skype is an interesting service, but it’s been plagued by horrible billing problems since inception. I wrote an entry about it (http://www.neuro-tech.net/archives/000569.html) and every day or two someone else comments on their problems with it. These issues are unforunately overlooked for the most part, since lots of A-list bloggers use Skype and praise it left and right.

  5. Luke Reeves says:

    Hm, not sure why my previous comment didn’t get posted. Anyways, I brought up the fact that Skype’s huge billing-related problems are often ignored – a cursory glance at their SkypeOut support forum shows dozens of threads complaining about potential customers unable to use their credit card to buy SkypeOut units.

    Their software is great in my opinion – the Linux client in particular surprised me with it’s usability and stability. Now if only they’d stop pushing “MoneyBrokers” or whoever for their billing partner…

  6. Mike Voice says:

    I got a kick out of a Mac user’s comments on VersionTracker, a few weeks ago.

    Said person liked the ability to make cheap calls, but HATED the fact the software was installed so as to load during startup of the computer.

    Said user didn’t want the Skype sofware running when not making calls!!

    If that isn’t a classic example of a “leecher”, I don’t know what is. 🙂

  7. PeteB says:

    Works great, but if it makes you a supernode and you leave the system running the whole time (to let people call you), it uses up gigabytes of bandwidth per month (even while idle). Lots of broadband connections in the uK and elsewhere are capped, and this I suspect, is going to stop people from using it….

    Sound quality is great though, and ease of use is fantastic. Worked first time.

  8. Ed Campell says:

    I haven’t played with Skype, John. Actually, I don’t use the telephone for anything but work. I have one old friend who calls me — and he uses Vonage.

    Just commenting because I noticed Skype released V. for OS X, today. The previous version apparently was Maybe they’ve corrected some hiccup. Though, all of that can change, tomorrow, when Tiger starts arriving.

    The alchemy side of coding never leaves us, anyway. When I first got my Mac Mini and started using OS X [a couple months ago], everything was a dream except for having a problem with faxing. A necessity, again, dealing with clients.

    On the basis of an obscure reference I Googled, I uninstalled McAfee’s Virex! Haven’t had a whiff of a problem, since. Go figure.

  9. Anyone who has a computer with a reasonable internet connection should NOT be paying for long distance telephone if they are calling people that have a computer and a reasonable internet connection.

    We use Skype to talk with relatives in BC (Canada) from Ontario (Canada) and even when our internet connection isn’t that good >1MB we still get clear conversations. Yes, Yes, there may be the odd snap, crackle or pop but I had similar experiences with long distance and cell phones but know one seems to mind that.

    The only people who say services like Skype suck are the telephone companies how are trying to figure out a way to get people to pay for it.

    Now that’s what I call a disruptive technology that works for the masses!

    Get Skype and tell your long distance carrier to go pound paths else where!

  10. Paul Jonas says:

    Running Skype on a Mac w/no problems whatsoever as are most of my work team…

  11. Gershon says:

    Didn’t try Skpe I am still afraid of the fact that they use sharing technology like in Kaza but a new player, ” Teleo” is a free SIP based program from computer to computer and very low cost 0.02 cents/minute to almost anywhere in the world when you cal PSTN phones very similar to SKPE without the sharing technology. There are so many hackers out there why even give them a target to aim for. On top of all that not all of us have the bandwidth to give up when we are on the net as I am sure that you must do when somelese is using your connection???
    I do take off my hat to SKPE for pushing VOIP this is a great field which will revolutionize the telecommunications industry . I am sure that this will be the future of Voice communications.

    Best Regards
    Gershon Schwartz

  12. Guy Kewney says:

    There are possible challengers to Skype – from a tech point of view. And with Yahoo! getting into mobile phones, Skype will have to do the same pretty quickly, even if they have this clever “free Skype at WiFi” hotspot deal.

    But at the end of the day: I have about four SIP phone accounts, and I can’t persuade any of my friends to work out how to call me with those. Meanwhile, there are millions of Skype people, and they’re all prepared to chat as soon as they see me online.

    SIP has a lot of work in front, if it’s to challenge that user base.

  13. K says:

    Luke Reeves, I read your website comments, and I can affirm Skype’s cc billing problems. I got around them, as some of the contributors there had suggested, by using PayPal. Easy as pie going that route (for me). Thanks for sharing; it’s always easier to deal with these things going in with some knowledge of others’ experiences.

    I had done some research comparing Vonage with Skype, and had about decided to try Vonage, when I realized that, as a low-volume telephone user, I would do so well with Skype that I simply must try it first. Too early to make any assessments, but I will say– as others have– that software installation was a breeze, and even the (optional) purchase of SkypeOut was no hassle once I relented and used PayPal to pay. Other than that, I ran into an absence of available #s for the area code I wanted (SkypeIn), but we’ll see how that goes. I’ll keep checking.

    I think people need to try out these things one step at a time. I wince, for example, when I read about someone who has transferred his business phone number over to a VoIP service and now discovers that “the service sucks, and I am mad as hell because my business operation is critical to my existence” and so forth.

    One final thought: Are people talking, yet, about the effect that VoIP is going to have over the depletion of available phone numbers? Fax machines added a substantial burden when they came out, cell phones more so, and now along comes VoIP, which is going to make previous attempts to meet demand for numbers seem like a cake walk.

    It’s all very interesting.

  14. anirudha says:

    good one

  15. Dr. Sadek says:

    I am sorry but all those who simply praise Skype fail to mention their terrible customer service especially when it comes to billing. I am not in any way related to a telephone company but one of the frustrated users who so far has been waiting for over three weeks to get my account credited with money which has already been deducted from my credit card. May be Skype can concentrate on getting its act together and NO I am not the only one who is complaining there are many of us who see the failure in Skype to handle monies received from its users. Does any one have a comment please advise.


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