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A simple guide to Skype calling with Facebook

How does the social network's video chat service work?

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Are you looking forward to using Facebook's new in-browser Skype video chat but still waiting for the service to hit your profile?

If so, you can actually get started right now, and as you call your Facebook friends they will also be prompted to activate the new service. The process to get started is actually pretty straightforward, but in my tests I did find a slight hiccup that may prove frustrating to some users.

The first thing you need to do is visit Facebook's video calling start page and click the green "Get Started" button. This is supposed to start a one time download that will enable video calling on your system. However, in my test using Firefox on Mac OS X, I was not prompted about any downloads, although it's possible I may have missed it.

When I first clicked the "Get Started" button I waited for several minutes as my Facebook chat contacts list popped up with a "Loading..." message. I became tired of waiting so I reloaded the page, clicked the "Get Started" button again, and video calling was enabled almost immediately.

After I got video calling going in Firefox, I also opened up my Facebook page in Chrome, Opera and Safari to see what would happen. In both Chrome and Safari, there was no problem and chat was installed, but it turns out Facebook video chat is not supported in Opera.

After video chat was enabled, a popup window appeared asking me to pick a friend to call from the people available in my online chat contacts. After choosing a friend, the discussion window popped up and I was prompted to click on a new video camera icon at the top of the chat window.

Once you initiate a call, if your friend doesn't have video calling installed that person will be prompted to activate the service. Facebook gives you two choices to initiate a call. You can choose someone from your online Facebook chat contacts and then hit the video button in the discussion window. Or, you can click the "Call" icon that appears in the top right of your friend's Facebook profile page when they are online.

That's about it. Facebook's Skype integration is pretty painless to get going, although your experience may vary as my colleague David Daw found out.

Facebook's Skype integration may not have the popular group chat feature found in Google's Hangouts, the Google+ feature that lets you participate in a video call with up to 10 people. But video calling is likely a welcome addition for Facebook users, unless of course you use Opera as your primary browser.


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