Despite a lot of hate for Microsoft (just take a look at the comments at the end of this article), Skype is still a tempting choice for any company.
Skype is a familiar tool that most people use in their personal lives; it's backed by Microsoft and its mighty resource pool, and there are different versions to cater for all company sizes (regular free Skype, Skype Meetings and, formerly known as Lync, Skype for Business).
But Microsoft's popular communications product is by no means without its issues (many of which are well documented), such as poor call quality, out-of-control notifications, unreliable connections, problems with Skype credit, and so on. The hashtag #Skypedown always trends when there is an outage.
GetApp reviewer Denis Tylibtsev says: "We need to organize multipoint conf calls several times a week. Skype often drops the line."
We've scoured review data from GetApp and its sister sites Software Advice and Capterra, as well as product information and news, to find the top Skype alternatives by cost, business size, integrations, mobile app, user reviews, scalability, ease of implementation, customer support, and updates.
Skype pricing depends on which option you go for - there is the free desktop version of Skype for conference calls with up to 25 people, then there is Skype Meetings, which is a web-based version of Skype that allows you to have meetings for up to three people for free. It's only available in the US Then there is Skype for Business, which is a paid version.
Skype for Business is available within selected Office 365 plan, which start at either $5 per user per month if paid annually, or $6 per user per month if paid monthly.
Join.me is also free, but, just like Skype, this version only allows you to run meetings with three participants. The Pro version costs $18 per user per month and the Business version costs $30 per user per month.
However, it can save money over Skype in a number of ways. For example, Join.me allows you to give meeting participants a toll free number to call into, so they don't need to have the app installed (unless you want to use the video chat functionality).
Reviewer Steve Hockey says: "The ability to provide our customers with local dial-in numbers instead of expensive toll free numbers saved us a lot of money."
GetApp reviewer Scott Rivers says: "I know most people use it for screen shares first, but for the price I pay (been with them for years), it's worth it for me to have it just for the conference calls around the world."
Microsoft has traditionally seen much of its success come from enterprise rather than small businesses - take Office 365 as an example, with adoption rates of 7.5 percent among SMBs.
Skype is different in that it was an acquisition rather than a Microsoft-built legacy app, and it also launched a product specifically for small businesses called Skype Meetings, there are still Skype alternatives that start the end of the market with little to no resource or budget.
8×8 has been lauded by GetApp users as offering a top notch combination of unique features at a very affordable price, in addition to superior customer support and regular updates. This makes it suitable for the smallest of businesses.
Reviewer Anthony "Tony" Kunkel explains: "We have started a landscape and hardscape business in Houston recently. Just a small family owned organization with big dreams. In researching a phone option, I found 8X8 to be the exact match that we were looking for. The cost was low and keeps us going, but the features are the best. In the world of cellular phones, I have a personalized 8X8 auto-attendant message answering calls, and with a press of one button, customers and vendors get connected to the person or department that they need. No more answering and hanging around the phone at the office. Voice mail messages are emailed to me. I can listen and forward the voicemail to whom I need to handle the situation. Also, I get to set business hours, set messages, and control the phone system from an app and the website."
With the weight of the Microsoft ecosystem behind it, Skype boasts plenty of integrations, not just to Microsoft apps for ERP, CRM, marketing, business intelligence, customer service, etc, but it's not the only heavyweight in the communications and collaboration space in terms of integrations.
Hangouts Meet (as part of G Suite)
When we first published this article, many of the people who commented recommended Hangouts as an easy-to-use and reliable alternative to Skype. This was before Google released its Hangouts Meet product, which is only available as part of G Suite.
G Suite has a huge amount of integrations, spanning CRM, accounting, sales, HR, project management, and recruitment. These include Xero, HubSpot, Wrike, Zenefits, Insightly, and Kayako. It integrates with 217 apps on GetApp.
As Skype was an acquisition, its mobile apps weren't dragged down by the association with Windows Phone, so there are well-developed apps for iOS and Android. However, the iOS app has poor reviews on the Apple App Store, especially for the latest update. Its Android app fares better, with a solid four out of five rating, but there are still alternatives to Skype that offer a better mobile experience.
Reviewer Justin Loh says: "One of the best features that I have come to appreciate is the iOS app. If I'm stuck in traffic on the way to the office or can't get to a desktop/laptop computer, I can still participate with ease thanks to its slick integration with iOS' Calendar app. I simply click on the link to the meeting in the event notification which opens the app. I am then prompted to call in and can even turn on the front-facing camera if I so choose."
Skype is "much improved" according to one recent user review, however there are still a raft of other complaints from unhappy users regarding slow loading speed and the need for everyone to have Skype installed to communicate for free. It averages a score of 4.01 overall from almost 100 user reviews.
With a score of 4.72 out of 5 from nearly 100 reviews, Samepage comes out as the top alternative to Skype for user reviews. Samepage is like Skype meets Slack, with a raft of communication and collaboration features built in that will make you want to ditch your email and communications solution.
GetApp reviewer Jeff Gray says: "It just makes working together with my team so much easier. We've abandoned email and Slack long ago - we get all of our communication and content sharing done in Samepage now. As a design agency, we also share our work with clients through Samepage and it makes progress on each project so much easier to see. It's perfect for the following: task lists, file sharing, meetings, internal & client communications, event coordination, human resources documentation. Great mobile app too."
If you begin using Skype for free, as your business grows and you need to hold conferences larger than 20 people, you may want to move on to Skype for Business. However, this is not merely an upgrade to an existing product, it's a whole different piece of software, despite having the same look and feel.
This makes scalability more challenging as you can't just change plans and continue as normal with some extra features.
Slack was initially aimed at the startup end of the market and was adopted by smaller businesses. However, its rapid growth since its inception has changed all this.
The almost 3,000 GetApp readers who use Slack are spread across business sizes ranging from 1-10 to more than 1,000. While the biggest portion of users fall under the 1-10 and 11-50 business size, there is still a significant portion in the 1001+ business size.
This is reflected by the launch in February 2017 of Slack Enterprise Grid, which is an enterprise version of its messaging platform.
Implementation of any product can require training and support afterwards to make sure all users can get the most out of the software. The consensus seems to be that Skype is easy to use, so not much training is needed. Of course, if you're transitioning from Lync to Skype for Business this could be a different story.
Reviewer Amber Berkey says: "It is an intuitive product that is easy to use and easy to implement. There is little to no training on its use, and it greatly increases our ability to communicate across multiple sites in various cities."
In terms of training, RingCentral has guides, FAQs, videos, webinars, and a community portal to provide training after implementation. It also has a University, which provide online training courses that users can take at their own pace.
GetApp reviewers were happy with the after-sales training and support they received from RingCentral.
Reviewer Nich Belichner says: "My support representative was very polite and responsive, he seemed to care if my questions were answered and if I was getting what I needed out of my RC account, he also took the time to find me a solution that worked with my account but still met my needs."
Reviewer Georgia Taylor says: "Support representative was very patient with the fact that nothing worked at first (including the original attempt to access computer). He was quick to find alternate solution to get things up and running."
As Skype is a familiar product, it's normally easy to implement, although businesses still have to make the decision whether to implement Skype for Business in the cloud or on-premise.
Reviewer Amber Berkey says of Skype: "It is an intuitive product that is easy to use and easy to implement."
However, if you're not sold, there are alternatives to Skype that also excel in terms of ease of implementation.
GetApp users regularly cite GoToMeeting's ease of implementation and the speed at which you can get up and running on as a major advantage of choosing this app over other communication software.
Reviewer Andy Golden describes GoToMeeting as: "Simple to implement."
GetApp Reviewer Jessica Saal describes GoToMeeting as: "Very easy to use and user friendly. quick and easy to learn across multiple locations within our organization."
GetApp user Christie Noel says GoToMeeting is: Very user friendly - easy to coordinate, set up, and execute.
Reviewer Terrance Mitchell also points out that it's easy to train others to use the app when it is set up: "I like how the controls are set up an arranged. very simple to use and to teach to other users."
Skype gets mixed reviews in terms of customer support, with mostly positive ratings, but users still find it difficult to get help when they need it.
One reviewer says: "Automated phone system could use some work. It was not very convenient to reach a customer service representative."
Samepage is the highest ranked communication and webconferencing app on GetApp for customer support, with all ratings either excellent or very good.
The reasons reviewers give that make Samepage's customer service standout include around the clock support in different time zones, personalized training, and fast response times.
One reviewer cited Samepage's customer support as the reason who they upgraded to the Pro package:
"First, what convinced me to go Pro…the technical support was nothing short of amazing. The person assigned to our team always makes herself available from 6am to 6pm in my timezone. Because our team couldn't all train at the same time, she set up different times for different sets of members. She answered any questions we had through chat often within minutes and never longer than 20 minutes during her work hours."
Until a major update and redesign in June 2017, Skype hadn't added any significant new feature or carried out any important redesign since 2006. This was also the first time that Microsoft had made any major new update to the app since its acquisition in 2011. Given the competitive nature of the collaboration, VoIP and communications world, there is every chance that the app could be overtaken in terms of features and usability
According to GetApp reviewers, RingCentral regularly adds new features and makes updates to improve the product.
Reviewer Sam Jolman says that there are: "Highly active updates and new features."
GetApp reviewer Stephanie Rose says: "RingCentral has been very easy to use from the beginning and an extremely reliable product for our company. We also appreciate the fact that they are always adding new features and updates that make their product even better."
The communications, collaboration and messaging space is fast moving and there have been many changes and developments since we first published this article. We're always keen to hear from our readers about which there favorite apps are. Here are some other Skype alternatives that we haven't been able to include in this article:
Let us know which alternatives to Skype you would recommend by connecting with us on Twitter or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you still haven't found what you're looking for, check out: