Facebook video chat kicks off “Launching Season 2011”

Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters July 6th, 2011

Facebook has announced a partnership with Skype that enables one-on-one video chat within the social networking website.

At an event Wednesday morning at Facebook’s Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced the video chat feature along with a new group chatting feature and a new chat user interface. The video chat works worldwide within the Facebook website and is completely free to use.

The video chat debut is just the first of what Zuckerberg said would be a series of launches the company has planned for the near future. “Today marks the beginning of launching season 2011,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff coming up in the next few weeks and months.”

Skype and Facebook started working together approximately six months ago, well before Skype had begun to be acquired by Microsoft (s MSFT), Zuckerberg and Skype CEO Tony Bates said. Facebook became even more serious about the feature after the Microsoft/Skype deal was announced. “We have a very longstanding relationship with Microsoft,” Zuckerberg said.

The alliance with Skype is indicative of how Facebook plans to go about launching new features in the months ahead — through partnerships, rather than in-house development. “This is symbolic of the type of way we’re going to do these things,” Zuckerberg said. “We want to leave as much as possible to independent entrepreneurs and companies who are going to be best in class at doing these things.” Facebook is going to continue to focus on maintaining and building the social infrastructure that underlies new apps, rather than on building the apps themselves. “We build the infrastructure, and we’re years ahead in wiring it up,” said Zuckerberg.

Here are some screen shots of the new Facebook chat features: