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Peer-to-peer IP telephony startup Skype yesterday released a version of its software designed for mobile devices running Microsoft's PocketPC operating system.

Skype for Pocket PC version 1.0 allows users of wireless LAN-enabled PDAs running Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC to make Voice over IP calls from Wi-Fi hotspots. As with PC versions of the software, the technology allows users to make free voice calls to other Skype users over a broadband P2P network. Skype for Pocket PC enables cross-platform voice calls to other Skype users running either Windows, Linux or the recently released Mac OS X versions of Skype. All Skype software is free. The Pocket PC version of Skype, first released as a beta back in April, can be downloaded from Skype's website.

Installing the software on a HP iPAQ Pocket PC 5500 proved straightforward. We were able to easily set up a pair of calls and the voice quality was surprisingly good, providing you both remember not to attempt talking at the same time. Oddly, it was easier to have a clear conversation with someone in the Northampton area than someone in the office next door.

The release is something of a boon for geeks who will be able to use the software to turn WiFi-enabled iPAQ and the like into something resembling Star Trek-style communicators. Skype users control their online presence and contact lists, and have options to customise their overall experience.

Skype for Pocket PC Free offers end-to-end encryption for privacy along with conference calling and instant messaging features. The application includes a service, called SkypeOut, that allows Skype users to pre-pay and use their computing device and Internet connection to call landlines and mobile phones anywhere in the world at local rates (pricelist here). SkypeOut pricing starts at approximately two cents per minute (for the US, Western Europe and Australia). Rates in the developing world are far more expensive.

"With the launch of Skype for Pocket PC 1.0, Skype is expanding consumer choice in mobile, global communications by offering free Skype-to-Skype calling and affordable SkypeOut calls to any traditional phone number," said Niklas Zennström, Skype chief executive and co-founder. "We are delivering greater platform and portability options for consumers looking to take advantage of the cost and quality benefits of internet telephony. We will continue to expand platform choices for our users." ®

Related story

Skype preps pre-pay service for the world
Skype: giving wireless PDAs a new voice
VoIP to transform telecoms market
IBM and Cisco team up for VoIP
Corporate VoIP to challenge Skype

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