The latest release of Skype's 5.0 beta will let you make video calls to as many as 10 people at the same time, according to details posted on the company's Thursday blog.
The 10-way calling is an upgrade from the first 5.0 beta, which offered only 5-way video chatting. But beyond tweaking the video calling, the engineers at Skype have outfitted beta 2 with other new features and tweaks.
Skype's new Home area will offer updates about the service, details on your call purchases, and videos to help newbies get started. The new offline IM feature will let you send messages to and receive them from other people who are offline. The messages are kept on hold and delivered once you or the other person is back online.
Beta 2 has also tried to improve both the quality and reliability of Skype calls. A built-in client messaging service tells you about any potential problems with a call and offers suggestions to improve its quality. Should your network connection go down, the new Skype beta will try to quickly re-establish that connection so the call doesn't get dropped. If the call is lost, Skype will quickly redial it for you.
The gurus at Skype have also tweaked the software's interface by displaying photos of your contacts and a history list of previous conversations.
You can learn a bit more and grab Skype 5.0 beta 2 at Skype's Web site. To install the beta, you'll need to be running Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7. (Sorry Mac users, an OS X beta won't be available until later this year.) And if you want to try out the 10-way calling, your Skype friends will need to install beta 2 as well.