Skype has announced a new version of its chat software as it moves to simplifying finding friends and setting up the software to make calls for its 309 million registered users.

The new software, version 4.0, adds a number of new features including greater support for more hardware, video and letting people connect with friends say Skype.

"We're sharing this beta with you a little earlier than normal because we know it's a big change, and sometimes change can take some getting used to. We're going to spend the whole summer listening to your feedback and making changes so that when we do launch the final version, we'll make sure it's perfect."

"Because we're releasing it early, a few little things aren't available in today's beta: full history and contact groups are two examples", said Mike Bartlett the company's development manager.

The software also has an overhaul on the user interface with simplified presence status and improved buttons highlighting the ability to make video calls.

"28% of all calls on Skype use video at present", said Bartlett before criticising the current version, version 3.8, for not making video easier to use to date.

Skype 4.0 Beta for Windows will also allow you to plug in a new device and automatically detect it and start using it. According to Skype, the new software will remember your devices so that next time, even if you switch headset mid-call say Skype.

No word as yet as to whether the new features will be coming to Mac or mobile phone users although Skype has said that the new 4.0 version brings the PC version of the software more in line with the Mac version.

The company has said that it is not confirming a final delivery date as yet, although expect it to be within the next couple of months.