VoIP is Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s a general term used to describe voice communications over a packet-switched network (such as the internet). In this article I’m going to touch on the several different ways you can use PC-to-PC VoIP.
Important note: Yes, VoIP obviously includes the ability to communicate via PC-to-phone and vice versa. But that costs money to do that in most instances. PC-to-PC calling is completely free and that’s what I’ll be talking about.
Also note: There are more than 5 ways to VoIP. This is just a quick list.
Web site: www.skype.com
This is by far the most used PC-to-PC VoIP software that people use. In fact it’s used so much that the name is used as a verb that means "to call" (ex: "We need to talk, I’ll Skype you") much the same way Google means "to search the internet".
Skype also makes for a darn fine text instant messenger as well.
The only bad part about Skype is that it uses a proprietary protocol, meaning you must use Skype software in order to use the service. This is a turn-off for some.
Is there a way to call a Skype user without Skype software on a PC? Yes. There’s Gizmo5’s OpenSky. I haven’t tested this so I don’t even know if it works, so if anybody wants to give that a go, please feel free to do so and comment below if it worked or not (and if it did work, how well did it work?)
Windows Live Messenger
Web site: download.live.com/?sku=messenger
WL Messenger has had the ability to do VoIP for some time now, although most people aren’t aware of it. This is mainly because for whatever weird reason it’s hidden.
I’ve found the easiest way to access the feature is to open the messenger, press ALT on your keyboard to bring up the top menu, then click Actions, Call, Call a contact’s computer, like this:
From there you can place a call to another WL messenger contact on your list.
Web site: messenger.yahoo.com
Calling another contact on your list is easy in Y! Messenger. Just right-click an online contact and choose to "call" the user’s computer. No fuss, no muss.
Web site: www.google.com/talk
Out of all the software on this list, Google Talk’s is the easiest concerning PC-to-PC calling. It’s as easy as Yahoo’s way of doing it but has the advantage of being very light on system resources. As a VoIP client, it’s tough to beat how straightforward and simple Google Talk is.
Web site: ekiga.org
Linux users are familiar with this one, but bear in mind there is a Windows version also.
Be sure to read Ekiga Interoperability as it explains what will and won’t work with Ekiga on phones, Mac and Windows.
What’s the best of the lot?
Skype, no question.
Why is it the best?
- It will work easily on Windows, Mac or Linux.
- It has the most recognition as a solid PC-to-PC software voice client.
- It’s the easiest to do small voice conferencing with (meaning 6 participants or lower before the connection chokes).
- The software runs well even on lower-end PCs and Macs.
- For what it offers for free, it’s extensive and moreover useful.
Do you use VoIP at all? If so, what’s your favorite VoIP software client?
Write a comment or two and let us know.