Skype for Linux 4.0

Windows and Mac versions of Skype get updates every couple of months, but it's taken a staggering three years for the latest Linux version to drop its beta tag and get an official release. Skype for Linux launched in the middle of June and jumped straight from version 2.2 to 4.0.

We tested both versions and noticed that the video and audio quality is much better in 4.0. There's also less buffering, and it drops calls and goes silent far less often than version 2.2. Also, it doesn't crash anywhere near as much as it did and your chat history loads more quickly.

Skype has added some useful tools, including a conversation window that lets you see your recent calls and messages in one place, rather than in multiple chat windows. This tool, which has been in the Windows and Mac versions for some time, makes Skype faster to run and easier to use.

There's also a new Call view (similar to that on other versions), and new emoticons. You can also store and view phone numbers on a Skype contact's profile page.

This Linux version was released in the same week Skype added 'contact pinning', which lets you pin your favorite people to the top of your list, to its Windows and Mac versions (but not Linux). The bad news is that Skype now shows adverts during calls made in free accounts on every version.

Making the different versions look the same is no bad thing because it makes switching from one to another very easy. But after three years without an update, we expected more new tools. If you've been using Skype 2.2, having any of these new features will be a bonus. But if you've recently switched to Linux, you'll be frustrated that it's still playing catch-up with Windows and Mac.

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