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Microsoft announces Skype Professional Account Preview, with native billing, scheduling and notes

by Dann Anthony Maurno
Assistant Editor, MSDW

Microsoft on its Skype Blog has announced the Skype Professional Account desktop client, which will add new booking and payment capabilities. It will soon be released in preview in the US (though Microsoft is accepting applications now to join the preview).

The Skype Professional Account desktop client "adds powerful new features to Skype to make doing your online business a whole lot easier," promises Microsoft, including booking meetings; accepting payments; and keeping notes on the session. (No details on the payment engines used or accepted)

Skype Professional Account is targeted at any type of remote service provider, from the self-employed sole providers to professional services. When applying for the preview, you are asked to select from several business categories, including:

  • Online education (e.g. languages, music)
  • Wellness (e.g. nutrition, yoga)
  • Coaching (e.g. life coach, career coach)
  • Telehealth (e.g. psychology)
  • Business Consulting (e.g. strategy consulting, email marketing, consulting)
  • Legal & Financial Services
  • Real Estate
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Other (self-defined)

This offering, says Microsoft, brings under one umbrella the three utilities (and usually, three solutions) required for online consultation, being Skype, calendar software, and a third-party online payment service (see graphic for interface). "From French tutors to yoga instructors, you'll be able to book lessons, accept payments, and give lessons all from one place, seamlessly," says Microsoft; this, alongside an enhanced Skype profile page to improve online presence, and a dedicated website right in Skype. "Your contacts will be able to see pertinent info like your hours and business offerings."

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About Dann Anthony Maurno

Dann Anthony Maurno is a seasoned business journalist who began his career as International Marketing Manager with Lilly Software, then moved on as a freelancer to write for such prestigious clients as CFO Magazine; Compliance Week;Manufacturing Business Technology; Decision Resources, Inc.; The Economist Intelligence Unit; and corporate clients such as Iron Mountain, Microsoft and SAP. He is the co-author of Thin Air: How Wireless Technology Supports Lean Initiatives(CRC/Productivity Press, 2010).