Skype ver­sus Zoom

Video­con­fer­enc­ing apps are es­sen­tial for stay­ing con­nected with your team dur­ing the shut­down. MICHAEL ANSALDO re­ports

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

With the whole coun­try un­der lock­down, many peo­ple are hav­ing to work from home. This has sud­denly made video­con­fer­enc­ing apps es­sen­tial. In­deed, Skype and Zoom, the two most rec­og­nized names in this cat­e­gory, have seen their us­age num­bers spike.

Given that both plat­forms have made changes to their apps re­cently – Zoom to crack down on bad ac­tors

dis­rupt­ing meet­ings and Skype to make it eas­ier to start us­ing its prod­uct – we thought it a good time to look at how they com­pare. Here’s what you need to know be­fore your next meet­ing.

What is Skype?

Skype (fave.co/2V5­gomG) is Mi­crosoft’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tool that al­lows mul­ti­ple peo­ple to re­motely in­ter­act in real time. Ini­tially, the app was de­signed to make voice calls over the In­ter­net. While that’s still its core ca­pa­bil­ity, it has evolved to in­clude video calls and in­stant mes­sag­ing as well. The app is com­pat­i­ble with Win­dows, macOS, Linux, An­droid, iOS, Xbox and Ama­zon Alexa de­vices.

What is Zoom?

Zoom (fave.co/2RAjFIk) is a cloud-based video con­fer­enc­ing tool. Cre­ated with large com­pa­nies in mind, it en­ables users to host and record meet­ings, par­tic­i­pate in group chats, and col­lab­o­rate as if they were in the same of­fice. The app works with Win­dows, Mac, An­droid and iOS op­er­at­ing systems.

Fea­tures

While both Skype and Zoom al­low you to hold video meet­ings and record them for later re­view, they dif­fer sig­nif­i­cantly in scale. Skype can sup­port up to 50 par­tic­i­pants on a sin­gle video con­fer­ence (the same limit ap­plies to voice calls). Zoom can ac­com­mo­date up to 1,000 video par­tic­i­pants and 49 on-screen videos.

Another dif­fer­ence: both Zoom and Skype al­low users to par­tic­i­pate in a meet­ing even if they don’t have an ac­count – they can sim­ply join via a shared link or code. But Skype re­cently upped the ante with a fea­ture called Meet Now that’s been pro­moted heav­ily dur­ing the coro­n­avirus shut­down. Hosts can now cre­ate and share a free meet­ing even if they don’t have Skype soft­ware down­loaded on their ma­chine. The process is done through a Skype web in­ter­face and takes just a few clicks.

Once you look be­yond video­con­fer­enc­ing, the two tools’ ba­sic fea­ture sets com­pare pretty favourably. Both sup­port screen shar­ing, white­board­ing, and the shar­ing of doc­u­ments and other files – all es­sen­tial for get­ting work done. Zoom, how­ever, has some busi­ness-ready ca­pa­bil­i­ties Skype lacks, such as break­out ses­sions, the abil­ity to gen­er­ate meet­ing

tran­scripts, we­bi­nar host­ing, and a ro­bust set of meet­ing an­a­lyt­ics and re­port­ing tools.

App in­te­gra­tions

You can ex­pand the power of each tool through an ar­ray of in­te­gra­tions with other apps. Skype in­te­grates with other Mi­crosoft prod­ucts in­clud­ing Word, OneDrive and Out­look, as well as third-party apps such as Slack and Word­Press. Zoom of­fers a va­ri­ety of third-party app in­te­gra­tions through its App Mar­ket­place. Th­ese in­clude pop­u­lar op­tions like Slack, LinkedIn and Google Drive, and dozens more in sales, mar­ket­ing, fi­nance, health­care and other cat­e­gories.

Pri­vacy

Both Zoom and Skype use end-to-end en­cryp­tion to se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions. How­ever, some of Zoom’s ba­sic func­tion­al­ity has been called into ques­tions for its pri­vacy vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.

Most no­table is a re­cent spate of Zoom­bomb­ing – the act of us­ing Zoom’s screen-shar­ing fea­ture to dis­play vi­o­lent or porno­graphic im­agery in a meet­ing. En­ter­pris­ing trolls have been ex­ploit­ing the fact that Zoom does not re­quire a meet­ing host to grant screen-shar­ing ac­cess to another par­tic­i­pant. All they need then is a meet­ing link to en­ter – and re-en­ter un­der a new name, if blocked – a video­con­fer­ence. Zoom­bomb­ing has be­come such a nui­sance that

some school dis­tricts and New York City have banned the use of Zoom for on­line learn­ing dur­ing the coro­n­avirus school clo­sures. Zoom has re­sponded in part by en­abling its Wait­ing Room fea­ture, which al­lows the host to con­trol when a par­tic­i­pant joins the meet­ing, for all free ac­counts, and by adding more pass­word pro­to­cols

Another re­cent re­port high­lighted fea­tures and set­tings that could be used by em­ploy­ers to com­pro­mise em­ployee pri­vacy, such as meet­ing record­ings and tran­scripts and a built-in at­tendee at­ten­tion tracker. It also pointed out that the cagey se­man­tics in the com­pany’s pri­vacy pol­icy are hardly re­as­sur­ing.

To be fair, many Tech Ad­vi­sor writ­ers and ed­i­tors have used Zoom for video­con­fer­enc­ing with­out in­ci­dent. But as with any app or plat­form, you should make sure you un­der­stand and are com­fort­able with its fea­tures and poli­cies be­fore you use it.

Pric­ing

Skype is free to use for any Skype-to-Skype com­mu­ni­ca­tions. That in­cludes video con­fer­enc­ing, chat, and voice calls over the In­ter­net. If you want to call some­one’s cell phone or lan­d­line, you’ll need to pur­chase ei­ther Skype Credit or a sub­scrip­tion. Credit is of­fered in a minute-based tier: £5 gets you up to 165 min­utes, £10 up to 330 min­utes and £25 up to 830 min­utes. Monthly sub­scrip­tions pro­vide un­lim­ited min­utes and are based on the geo­graphic re­gion you want to call. A UK-only plan costs £6 per month and a World plan is £12 a month.

Zoom also of­fers a free Ba­sic plan, which pro­vides video­con­fer­enc­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion and al­lows you to host up to 100 par­tic­i­pants. There’s a 40-minute meet­ing limit with the Ba­sic plan, al­though it’s pos­si­ble to sim­ply click the same link to re­sume the meet­ing be­yond that. Pro, Busi­ness, and En­ter­prise plans run £11.99 to £15.99 per host, per month, and add more busi­ness fea­tures. Those paid plans in­clude 100, 300 and 500 par­tic­i­pants.

Bot­tom line

Both tools make re­mote com­mu­ni­ca­tion eas­ier, but there are some things to con­sider be­fore choos­ing one over the other. Skype is un­doubt­edly the more user­friendly of the two apps, largely be­cause of its long his­tory as a con­sumer app. Sim­ply, more peo­ple al­ready know how to use it. How­ever, its 50-par­tic­i­pant limit makes it best suited to small busi­nesses and teams. Zoom is the clear choice for en­ter­prise-size com­pa­nies thanks to its high-par­tic­i­pant sup­port and deep busi­ness fea­tures.

Skype sup­ports up to 50 peo­ple per video or au­dio call

Zoom sup­ports hun­dreds of par­tic­i­pants per meet­ing

You can share and an­no­tate doc­u­ments in Zoom

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