Skype, one of the Web's most popular video chat clients, announced today that its newest version will include a new group chat feature that will allow up to five people to video chat with each other at once.
The feature is going to be part of a new set of premium features Skype is rolling out in 2010 that have a yet undetermined price.
The new feature is available for preview in a trial of the new version of Skype, but the company warns that users should "be aware that group video calling is currently in 'beta' - this means that there might be a few rough edges, and that it might not work perfectly every time."
While we were first excited about the feature, as more than 21 million people are using Skype as we type, the mention of money of course tempered our reaction. Where at first, we imagined teenage users going ga-ga over the ability to group chat, we immediately remembered the free video group chat service Tiny Chat. Tiny Chat allows more control over chat rooms and up to 400 participants with 12 live audio video streams per room. The new Skype feature, on the other hand, will support up to five video streams at a time.
To get the new Skype group video chat running, simply follow the company's directions:
To make group video calls, the people you're calling will also need to be running the new version, so make sure you let your friends and family know they can also download the beta by posting this on Facebook and Twitter. Once you're all set up, it's easy to start a group call - just use the Add button to invite people into the conversation, and click the Video Call button.
The feature is currently only available for PC, but a version for Mac is soon on the way. And while we don't see this catching fire among the teenagers, the families and business types that already use it for other functions will likely find this a useful feature - but will they pay for it?