Jul 072011

As expected, Facebook has announced Skype-powered video calling for its users, who now number more than 750 million according to the company.

The new feature was unveiled by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Skype CEO Tony Bates at a news conference at Facebook HQ on Wednesday where Facebook engineer Philip Su provided a walkthrough of the application. The social networking giant also launched a new chat sidebar and what Su says is one of the site’s most requested features in multi-person chat.

Facebook video calling won’t require users to set up a Skype account but will require a one-time setup. This will be triggered the first time someone attempts to call you or you attempt to call someone by clicking the ‘Call’ button that now appears between the ‘Message’ and ‘Poke’ buttons on a friend’s profile or at the top right of a chat window. Users can also leave a video message if the call recipient doesn’t respond.

The site will be rolling out video calling in over 70 languages over the next few weeks, but if you don’t want to wait you can install it now by heading here. The application runs on Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari, but isn’t compatible with Linux and won’t make its way to Facebook mobile apps.

On his Facebook Blog post describing the new feature, Su said, “Video chat has been around for years now, but it’s still not an everyday activity for most people. Sometimes it’s too difficult to set up, or the friends you want to talk to are on different services. So a few months ago, we started working with Skype to bring video calling to Facebook. We built it right into chat, so all your conversations start from the same place.”

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