If there’s an OG of voice over IP services, Skype is it.
The software was one of the first video conferencing apps to become a household name, which is why so many of us have had it installed on our computers both at work and home in the past.
But while they deserve credit for popularizing video calls and making our lives easier, just because a company did it first doesn’t mean they currently do it best. That’s starting to be the case for Skype.
It may still be an affordable way to talk to your team and meet with outside colleagues, but it’s not as reliable as it used to be. Surely you’ve had a meeting or two delayed by the app not opening, along with awkward moments on calls where the caller’s face is frozen.
And while occasional tech glitch is inevitable, relying on buggy software for something as crucial as work communication can quickly kill your productivity, along with your mood. If that’s happening frequently, it may be time to click “uninstall.”
When you first started using Skype, there likely weren’t many comparable alternatives, but VoIP has come a long way since then, or even since its acquisition by Microsoft in 2011.
Now you have a whole variety of video conferencing and team chat tools to choose from. And the company’s size and age, which were once benefits of using the software, have become what’s holding it down.
Skype competitors are now frequently leaner, faster, and more agile than Skype ever was, even before its acquisition. That means more stable software, frequent updates, and modern features.
So if you’re frustrated with the tool but have never tried switching away from it, now’s a great time to take a look at the Skype alternatives out there. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Microsoft Teams
As another Microsoft team chat tool, Microsoft Teams is likely the alternative that will remind you most of Skype in terms of look and feel. If that appealed to you, it’s a good option to consider first.
It’s also a great alternative if you’re using other Microsoft tools in your workflow or to manage your tasks, like Word, Excel, or Outlook. The software all belonging to the same “family” makes for several simple integrations that’ll come in handy for offices running on Microsoft.
In terms of features, it offers both chat and video calls, just like Skype, but with improvements that offer a more modern-feeling interface. For example, chat histories are much more advanced than in Skype, there are improved group chat features, and you can seamlessly switch between different types of communication.
The one potential downside is that Teams is focused on, well, teams. The process for chatting with people outside your company or organization, like clients or vendors, isn’t as simple as chatting with your coworkers. However, it is possible to add guest access, which might be worth considering if you mostly use Skype for inter-office communication.
If you do decide to try out Microsoft Teams as a Skype alternative, plans start free and go up to $20 per user per month for more advanced features.
If you want to go outside of the Microsoft family and are focused on calls over chatting, Zoom is a fantastic option for you to consider.
It’s become one of the most popular Skype alternatives in terms of downloadable videoconferencing software for multiple platforms. Its apps for desktop and mobile are faster and more reliable than Skype has become, but offers similar features in the ways that matter.
It has a more modern interface for calls, with several viewing options (including the infamous Brady Bunch mode) to accommodate virtual meetings of all sizes. You can also schedule meetings, either one-off or recurring, that each have their own “room” and join link.
Plus it has several features built-in that you normally need plugins or third-party tools for in Skype, like call recording and presentation tools. Finally, there’s a unique feature called breakouts for splitting up a large group into smaller sections, which is great for department- and company-wide calls and standups.
A lot of teams will find what they need on the free plan, but for larger calls or advanced features, paid plans go up to $19.99 per user per month, plus paid add-ons for features like webinars and cloud storage for call recordings.
Previously known as appear.in, Whereby is a lightweight, browser-based tool for video calls and conferences.
If you don’t hold video calls that often, you might not want to keep conferencing software installed on your devices. Or perhaps your IT department limits what you can install. Whatever the reason is for needing a browser-based system, Whereby should more than meet your standards.
Since you can simply open a tab and launch a call from within it, this option might also be great if you have frequent spontaneous meetings where something like Zoom’s prescheduled rooms aren’t needed. With no downloads, sign-ins, or launching external apps, you can be talking to someone face-to-face in just a few seconds.
The free plan has limited features, but if you upgrade to the $9.99 Pro or $99.99 professional plan, you can unlock more enterprise-focused features like multiple meeting rooms and hosts, call recording, calendar integrations, and custom branding.
4. Troop Messenger
Another great option to consider is Troop Messenger. You’ll especially want to take a close look at it if the nature of your work requires extra tight security. For example, it seems Troop is popular with and caters to non-profits, security firms, and government teams. If they can trust Troop with their communication and data, you likely can too.
In terms of capabilities, Troop has a lot of flexibility in terms of types of messaging. You can send text, audio, or video messages, either to individuals or chat groups. You can easily attach and send files, or share your screen on a call without extra plugins.
If you work with third-party contractors or vendors you’d like to bring into the conversation, you can do that too, with Troop’s “orange member” guest feature. And for your more forgetful moments, there’s a solid search feature with advanced filters.
It’s a solid feature set comparable to the more expensive options on this list, but is more affordable at $1/user/month, for the premium plan. For extra control and security, your organization can also host the software on your own servers using a custom pricing plan.
The final Skype alternative we recommend you check out for your business is WhatsApp. Yes, the one owned by Facebook. Yes, really. It can be great for work, and even offers a free WhatsApp Business solution for talking to customers and clients.
It has a lot in common with Skype, including the fact that it’s popular for personal use as well as business. This may not seem like an advantage, but it means there’s a greater chance the people you’re meeting with already have and use the app.
Additionally, unlike the other apps on our list, WhatsApp has a mobile-first focus. While the other options have mobile apps or support, this service is optimized for phones and tablets, with web support added later. If your work (or the work of whoever you’re meeting with) requires you to be on the go frequently, this focus might make it the best option for you.
WhatsApp also lets you communicate in multiple ways with multiple types of content: you can hold calls, chat, or send documents. The only potential drawback is its restrictions on groups, in that video calls are limited to four participants. But if that’s not a problem for you, you can easily record the group call or switch between chat and video.