The good news for Skype users is that it’s finally getting video voice mail. The bad news: this assumes you own a Mac, or a mobile device using iOS or Android. The Windows versions look like they will be last to that party, with an availability expected in April.

The feature, which is rolling out in a beta version in the U.S. and U.K. initially, is only available free for 20 messages, after which a user needs to subscribe to Skype Premium for US$ 4.99 monthly. Premium subscribers can send an unlimited number of messages.

Up to Three Minutes

A Microsoft representative told news media that, while the company was “pleased” to know that people were interested in knowing when Video Messaging would arrive for Windows and Windows 8 devices, no specific date was available.

Video messages can be up to three minutes long, and the function adds a major new feature to one of the leading IP-based telephony offerings. Users can record the message using a front-facing camera, although there is also an option to employ the rear camera.

Messages can be sent to users who are on or offline, and they are viewed within the Skype chat window. Users with Skype for Windows or for Windows Phone can receive and view messages online via a link, but not send. Mac users also have the option to download the video message as MP4.

Version 6.2

This function has been available in some competitive offerings. For instance, Tango, which offered the first Windows Phone video chat app, started providing video messages in December of 2011. Microsoft once offered a Windows Live Video Messages service, but that ended in mid-2010.

From the Skype website.

Skype has become Microsoft’s central messaging platform since it was purchased by Microsoft for US$ 8.5 billion in 2011. The software giant is issuing new features and product alliances for Skype every few weeks. Given Skype’s popularity, it’s not out of the question that the new feature could lead to a wave of 3-minute-or-under expressive statements, such as has become popular with Twitter’s 6-second Vine video capability.

Last week, Skype issued its 6.2 update for Windows and Mac. The Windows version included a revamped toolbar, and the Mac version had several bug fixes. Both versions offer eGifting, so that users can send Skype credits as presents.