Usually we use Google Hangouts for group video calling and also for screen sharing with more than two participants. If you’re not using Google Hangouts yet for your video conferences (full video and audio with more than two participants) and software demos, you really should. It’s a great product, it works on all platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac), and it’s free.
However, one of our clients unfortunately cannot use Google Hangouts due to company policy, so I went out searching for alternatives. Skype was one of the first that came to mind.
Skype only supports group video calling (i.e. more than two people) and group screen sharing (i.e. sharing your screen with more than one person) if you get a premium subscription of around €8 per month in my case. That’s not an issue; if a product solves a problem, it may of course cost money, although in this case one might raise the question why skype premium still exists if a superior product is available for free. It’s probably kept alive by company policies all around the world.
To test, I arranged for a one-month test premium subscription. Fortunately this is free.
Unfortunately, it turns out that even with a premium subscription, the Linux version of Skype 126.96.36.199 (I’m serious about development and technology in general, so I use Linux) does NOT support group video and it also does NOT support screen sharing with a group.
So there you have it. Skype fits perfectly into Microsoft’s product portfolio of overpriced and inferior software that survives purely due to marketing and politics. Unless you have a very good reason not to, you should definitely prefer Google Hangouts for all of your video conferencing needs. Remember that the days of Skype being a peer-to-peer “secure” network are long gone, all of your traffic is running through Microsoft servers, so your chances of being eavesdropped upon by NSA and friends are about equal, except that in Skype’s case, you’re even paying for the privilege! 🙂