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Skype Meetings is a new tool that lets small businesses have free virtual meetings. (Credit: Microsoft)
Skype Meetings is a new tool that lets small businesses have free virtual meetings. (Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft today released a new free tool called Skype Meetings that allows small businesses and others to have audio and video meetings, challenging Google Hangouts and other free videoconference services.

Skype Meetings is for businesses that do not already have an Office 365 subscription and is basically a light version of Skype for Business. The program allows virtual meetings of up to 10 people initially and three people after the first 60 days. Skype for Business can support as many as 250 people in a meeting.

Meeting participants can instant-message each other, share screens and PowerPoint presentations and use a laser pointer to highlight points. The speaker can mute the audience in order to be heard.

Skype for Business includes more integration with other Microsoft products like Word and Outlook.

Microsoft bought Skype in 2011 for $8.5 billion. It has been integrating it with other products in recent years much like how Google has made Hangouts a key piece of its suite of office tools.

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