Facebook launches Skype videochat

Plays catch up to Google+
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Social networking giant Facebook has partnered with Microsoft's Skype video and voice chat service which will see video calling become available on the Facebook website without needing to sign up for a Skype account.

Facebook also unveiled a new chat design including a sidebar that shows Facebook friends that the Facebook user has messaged the most. All that's necessary to make a video call is to click on a new video call button at the top of the chat window.

In order to use the feature, Facebook users need to download a small executable that installs support for the Skype video calling feature. Facebook said that the feature is being rolled out over the next few weeks but particularly keen Facebook users can try it now.

Another feature Facebook is adding is the ability to engage in real-time group chats. The addition of a group chat function and video calling comes barely a week after Google launched the Google+ service.

Google+ features a real time group video service called Hangout and group chat function called Huddle, the latter also offered through the Google+ Android application.

Facebook's new launches have been likened to the firm playing catch-up following Google's social launch, a new experience for the firm accustomed to leading the market.

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