Google is set to roll out video and voice chat for Gmail chat, taking on such established VoIP and IM services such as Skype and Windows Live Messenger.

Gmail Video and Voice won't be able to hook up to landlines and the mobile phone networks (such as Skype) but it offers a decent, basic video chat service to users.

Competitor to Skype

The service is inevitably going to be compared to Skype, which has come under fire from many users for the quality of its video and voice calls, as well as for problems with IM spammers. If Google can improve its offering in both these areas, then Skype is going to be in some bother.

Gmail Video and Voice makes use of its own proprietary plug-in and supports Firefox, IE, and (of course) Google Chrome on the PC and Firefox on Mac.

Once you have installed the plug-in, in order to make a video call to a friend, colleague or family member then you can just invite them to install it too.

Fair play to Google. While it is a basic service, it seems to work well and be very easy to install and use.