A new(ish) video call feature from Microsoft

By | December 7, 2020
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This week, I wanted to tell you about a new Windows feature – partly because you might want to use it, but also just so you’re not left wondering what that funny little icon is that’s appeared out of nowhere! So, if you’ve got a Windows PC or laptop, you might have noticed a new icon appear at the right-hand side of your taskbar.  It looks a bit like a video camera with a curved line top and bottom.

It’s a feature that Microsoft added to their video calling service, Skype, a few months ago – they’ve just decided to put it on everyone’s taskbar now so it’s more obvious.

It’s called “Meet Now”, and if you’ve ever used Zoom, it’s a similar set-up to that. 

The way it works is that you can start a video call “meeting” and invite other people to join it using a link.  You need to have a Microsoft account set up in Skype to start a call, but anyone can join a call – so long as they’ve got the link, they don’t need to have a Skype account..

Here’s how to set up a call if you want to give it a go:

  1. Click on the little Meet Now icon on the taskbar (video camera with curved lines top and bottom).
  2. In the window that pops up, click “Meet now” – that will open up your Skype app and start a new meeting (you might need to sign in to Skype with your Microsoft account if you’re not already signed in).
  3. On the right hand side of the window, you’ll see a picture of whatever your webcam’s looking at – probably you.  On the left hand side will be some options.
  4. The name of the meeting is in a white box (you can rename it if you like by clicking in the box and changing what’s there).  Then underneath, there’s a link in a black box and a “Share invite” button.  Click “Share invite”.
  5. In the little menu that pops up, choose an email service (if you use the Mail app, click on “Default email”) – that will open up an email with the link in that you can send to whoever you want to join the call.  You might want to add a bit of explanation to the email as well before you send it!
  6. Then whenever you’re ready, you can start the call.  People can join in either before the call starts or once it’s underway.  If they’ve got Skype on their computer or tablet, clicking the link will open Skype.  Otherwise, they’ll be taken to the Skype website to join the call.  They can either use their Microsoft account if they’ve got one, or join the call as a guest.

Things like this are generally good for businesses or clubs, rather than personal calls.  But over Christmas when you might want to have a lot of people on the same call, it could be really handy.

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