Skype upgrades service; Vonage launches in the UK

Skype has announced version 1.1 of its Internet telephony service, adding new cosmetic flourishes and improved instant messaging features to put it better placed compared with other messaging rivals.

While Skype had always touted its voice service as its key feature, critics pointed to its rather spartan instant messaging functions compared with rivals.

In version 1.1, Windows users at least get the ability to start chat rooms of up to 50 people. Additional new features in Skype v1.1 include improved contact list management and presentation, new mini avatars alongside highlighted contacts and new tray alerts that help users monitor their contacts and messaging.

In other news, Vonage, the leading US Internet telephony provider announced it had doubled its subscriber base to 400,000 and was working with a handset builder to offer a WiFi-enabled handset that can hook up to available wireless hotspots. The company launched its service in the UK 28 December and has teamed up with the likes of Tesco and Carphonewarehouse for its sales channel, according to some reports.

Vonage’s UK site is up and running and taking orders for a £9.99 a month residential and £18.99 small business service for unlimited calls anywhere in the UK.

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