Skype has officially released version 3.0 of its popular Internet chat program. Skype 188.8.131.52 is now available for download and includes several new features. The program now plugs into Internet Explorer and users can make Skype calls to regular phone numbers with one click. Skype has also added a Skypecast feature where users can participate in moderated chats with up to a hundred people.
The release comes on the heels of Skype's announcement of a flat-rate calling service. Users can get unlimited calling within the United States for $30 or $15 if they sign up before January 31st, 2007.
Skype 3.0 now displays plug-ins in the "Do More" menu. The plug-ins let users to play games, record their Skype conversations and share a whiteboard. Several dozen other plug-in are available.
Previously Skype has only let you chat with a handful of people, but now you can talk with up to 100 people in moderated chats. These "Skypecasts" are basically chat rooms where one person can talk at a time by requesting permission from the moderator. As you exit the chat room, Skype handily opens the add contacts menu so you can add your favorite Skypecast participants.
Skype 3.0 is currently available on the Skype website. The free Windows download weighs in at 19 MB. Skype has not yet updated the Linux and Mac versions.