Download Skype and you can call anyone, wherever they are in the world, using video or voice chat.
As we covered in our roundup of five programs to be thankful for at Thanksgiving, Skype is a brilliant piece of free software.
Where email brought people closer together by making it cheap and easy to contact someone on the other side of the world, Skype went one step further. It took the incredible networking power of the internet and the science fiction fantasy of video calls and forged them into one revolutionary reality. And because the calls are made over your internet connection, they won't cost you a penny – all you need is a webcam.
That alone is amazing enough, but Skype offers so much more. Don't have a webcam? No worries, you can still make free telephone calls using Skype's Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
Want to conduct a business meeting with up to nine other people all around the world? That's easy too, thanks to Skype's ability to host multiple callers and group them into a conference call. The only drawback is that you can only test the group calls for seven days for free. Afterwards you'll only be able to make individual calls.
And there's even more to Skype, because you can send instant messages and video messages to your contacts, while you can also receive video messages even when you're not online. The screen sharing feature let's you see a friend's desktop – very handy for troubleshooting your mum’s misbehaving computer – which alone is worth downloading Skype for.
Verdict: Such is Skype's undoubted success and ubiquity these days that it's easy to take something like this for granted. But it has changed the way we contact each other over the internet. With its good audio quality, superb ease-of-use, reliable connections and brilliant features, Skype is the king of video calling.