I spoke to a friend on Skype (Internet telephony software) early last week and was reasonably impressed with the quality. It was at least as good as a normal landline voice call. Talking to one other person, my Pentium II 400 laptop running Windows XP uses about 50% CPU. Trying to host a conference call on such a low power CPU isn’t really practical though. The audio still works (just), but the UI of Skype freezes up to the point where you can’t hang up on anybody, so you have to ask them to hang up if you want your computer back, which I thought was a little bit amusing. Any modern PC should be able to handle hosting a conference call involving a group of people though.

One thing I disliked about Skype is that you can’t connect to the Skype network concurrently from two machines. What I was hoping for was that you could have two PCs running, say one in your study and one in another room (or even a wireless mobile laptop in your backyard), and people could still reach you wherever you were by calling a single login name. Instead, it seems like you need to create multiple login names for Skype, one per computer you want to leave connected to Skype. For a telephony network that is meant to be modelling the old phone network, this seems counterintuitive to me.

 

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