Skype begins public beta testing of the latest version of its popular VoIP software this week, with its stated aim of making video chatting a more popular and widespread feature of the service.

Skype version 4.0 will also enable users to post bigger photos of themselves (or their favourite comedy pictures of dogs on skateboards, whichever they choose) as opposed to the smaller thumbnail sized images previously on offer.

Non-techie Skypers

The new version of Skype will also be far more tailored to non-techie users and will automatically detect available bandwidth and any relevant devices you are using, which in the past has caused many non-techie users to steer clear of the service.

Skype's success story continues; the service counted 309 million registered users as of the end of March and generated $382 million in 2007 with the latest predictions from Wall Street analysts of $500 million by the end of 2008.

Eye-to-eye contact

"Skype users are communicating in many different modes -- often at the same time," Josh Silverman, Skype's president told Reuters.

"We thought it was time for software to take that into account… Now video is really bringing together all those modes of communication."

Silverman claims that the full-screen resolution of video in Skype 4.0 will enable users to make real eye-contact.

PC users wanting to test drive Skype 4.0 can grab it right here