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Skype - which is being acquired eBay for $2.6bn - is to offer video calls as part of the latest version of its internet telephony software.

Released today, the beta version of Skype 2.0 is new and improved with "enhanced features that allow people to stay in touch and express themselves online".

Key to that is Skype Video, which enables its 70m or so users to download software that will enable them to see the person they're calling.

"At Skype we want to make talking over the Internet the most natural, simple thing for people to do all over the world," said Skype chief exec Niklas Zennström.

"With the release of our new software, it's never been easier for people to talk to one another for free, and now they can see each other with video as well," he said.

As part of today's video VoIP announcement, Skype is teaming up with Logitech and Creative who make webcams and headsets needed to use the Skype service.

Two weeks ago Sony unveiled Instant Video Everywhere (IVE and pronounced "ivy") - a free video and voice service - backed by IP-based video communications service provider GlowPoint. ®

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