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Skype also lets users put money in an account and call land-line phones and cellphones.
Since it was founded in 2003, Skype has added features such as voice mail and video communication.
Then specialized dating websites discovered Skype, and its role as a matchmaker started growing.
Singles send messages to one another on most online dating sites, but "it takes an awful long time for them to find out if they're compatible," said David Finlay, co-owner of someonenew.com, a 14,000-member dating site.
The service says it has more than 100 million users.
At first, Skype was used mostly by people who already knew each other: spouses on business trips, camp friends and college students.
It started as so many relationships do -- the long phone calls, the movie dates, the tentative introductions to family and friends.
But the courtship of Mark Passerby and Salwa Al-Saban was hardly ordinary.
"But it is much more perfect than anything I could have ever wanted."Software like Skype is creating a world of online dating that enables relationships between people who live all over the globe, some of whom may never meet in person.
By allowing free phone calls between those who share a common language and a high-speed Internet hookup, Skype has spawned love connections between Belgians and Japanese, Germans and Israelis, Americans and Egyptians and even a Guatemalan nail technician and a Canadian member of the Raelians, a group that advocates human cloning.
The two were separated by the Atlantic Ocean, a time difference of six hours and vast cultural contrasts. They say they fell in love over Skype, a service that allows people to call each other for free over the Internet.
In November 2005, one month after they first "clicked" online, they were married."Everyone around us thinks we're crazy," said Salwa, a 25-year-old doctor who just moved to Lansing and took her new husband's name.