Mac users to get Skype upgrade

Skype, the mostly free voice over IP telephony company, announced on Tuesday it will release this week a Mac Skype starter kit that will include new communications software for Mac OS X 1.5.

Features of the revamped software include a calls in Windows feature and a "resizable" chat draw plus a more robust database that stores country codes accessed by a drop down window.

The Mac X 1.5 Skype will also offer French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch language versions.

A presence detector will allow SkypeWeb users to display online status.

New for Mac users will be the starter pack that includes a USB stereo headset with microphone, carrying case plus Sky software.

As competition for VOIP subscribers heats up Skype is targeting additional markets such as Apple as well as the enterprise, according to Rebecca Swensen, a senior analyst with IDC.

"It is important for Skype to gain as many subscribers as possible," Swensen said.

Besides the improved Mac hardware and software, earlier this summer Skype inked a deal with Polycom, a voice conferencing telephony company that will give Skype users conferencing capabilities.

In addition to free calls between Skype subscribers, Skype users can also call traditional PSTN phones free until the end of the year.

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Ephraim Schwartz

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