Over the course of the last year, video calls have become a fundamental part of many people's daily lives. For many of us, it's been the only way to see the faces of family, friends and colleagues.

It's no surprise to see software companies respond, with a wide range of services now offering video calling functionality. However, one you might not have heard of is 'Meet Now' a feature built directly into the Windows 10 user interface on recent versions.

Powered by Skype, it uses Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome to provide free video calls with up to 100 participants for up to 24 hours. However, despite the feature being added to the taskbar in September 2020, we've only been able to get it to work via the Meet Now website.

How to create a meeting using Meet Now

Firstly, it's worth checking if you can add the Meet Now icon to the taskbar, as this will make the process as smooth and seamless as possible. It may already be there - look for a camcorder icon with curved lines above and below. 

If you don't see it, right-click on the taskbar and choose 'Taskbar settings'.
Windows 10 taskbar menu

From here, scroll down to the 'Notification area' sub-heading and click 'Turn system icons on or off'.
Windows 10 taskbar settings

If you see a  the 'Meet Now' option, click the toggle to turn it on. If not, it's probably not available for your device, as mentioned above. In this case, you'll need to create the meeting via Skype's Meet Now site - give the call a name and click 'Create a free video call'.

If you have access to the icon, click it and choose 'Create a meeting'.
Windows 10 Meet Now
The following steps will then apply for both methods:

  1. A unique meeting link will have been created. Click it to copy and then send to everyone you'd like to invite (up to 99 people can join)
  2. Enter your name if necessary and click 'Start Meeting'
    Windows 10 Meet Now
  3. Now, you'll just need to wait for people to join

To join a meeting, simply paste the link that's been shared in either Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. You may need to download Skype if it's not already installed on your device.

If you're using the icon in the taskbar, choose 'Join a meeting' and paste in the link.

  1. Windows 10 Meet Now

What if I don't want to use Meet Now?

The good news is that there plenty of great options, many of which are free. The obvious choice is Zoom, which also offers up to 100 participants. Calls are limited to 40 minutes in the free tier, although there is a workaround. You may also want to consider Google Meet, which is now built into to Gmail and other Google services. Its free tier currently supports 250 participants for up to 24 hours, although that's set to expire at the end of March 2021.

Microsoft has largely replaced Skype with Microsoft Teams, and recently added ffree 60-minute meetings for up to 100 people via the web.

See more options in our guide to the best videoconferencing apps.