Skype has released a beta version of Skype for Mac OS X version 1.5.

It offers a redesigned interface and is available in nine languages. A host of new features include an improved contact list, calls in windows and chat drawer, simpler contacts search function, and 'Easy Dialler' for straightforward calling to landlines and mobile phones.

Mac users win Skype praise

"Skype has always believed that internet communication should be as simple and accessible to as many people as possible," said Jaanus Kase, community marketing manager.

"The Mac community represents an important market that values style, innovation and ease of use. Skype for Mac provides Mac users with a cost saving and easy way to keep in touch with friends and colleagues across the globe," he said.

Contact and language improvements

Skype has also improved the process of organising and adding contacts by supplying improved integration with Address Book and Entourage. The search function has also been improved.

In addition to English and Japanese, Skype for Mac now also comes in French, Spanish, German, traditional Chinese, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch language versions.

A new SkypeWeb feature lets users show their online status on their websites and in emails, so others can see when they're available to talk.

Mac packs

Skype has also announced its first Skype for Mac starter packs. These contain a USB stereo headset with microphone and carrying case; and a voucher for free SkypeOut minutes to call landline or mobile numbers worldwide.