During a press conference at its Silicon Valley headquarter today, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s new Skype-powered video chat feature. Thanks to this new feature, Facebook users can now easily start video chats directly from Facebook. To use it, Facebook users will have to install a small application on their desktop machines.

Easy Install, Great Video Quality

I just gave the new service a try and it’s clear that Facebook made the right choice by partnering with Skype. The video and audio quality is excellent and the chromeless window that pops up when you start a chat allows you to focus on the conversation. When you start a call, you’ll hear a ring and a box pops up on your Facebook page. It really couldn’t be much easier than that.

One nifty feature is that you can also leave video messages when your contact isn’t around to answer your call.

Facebook/Skype vs. Google Hangouts

schuler_skype_chatWe didn’t try group chats yet, but this is obviously a feature that also got a lot of attention when Google launched Google+ with Hangouts. Quite a few pundits argued that this was a killer feature for Google’s new social networking service. Google’s Hangout feature is slightly more impressive, but Facebook has clearly managed to steal some thunder from Google’s announcement (though both of these announcements were obviously in the works for months already).

Skype, of course, has been adding more Facebook functionality to its service over the last few months as well – up to the point where you can use Skype as a basic Facebook client

Zuckerberg also took some time to talk about Facebook’s guiding philosophy for the coming years. According to Zuckerberg, the driving factor for social networking in the coming years will not be about connecting the world anymore (because that has already happened for the most part, said Zuckerberg, though he also said that he hopes to get a billion people on Facebook “soon”), but “what cool stuff are you going to be able to build now that you have this kind of social infrastructure in place.”