Back in April, Microsoft began rolling out a preview version of Outlook.com with Skype integration to users in the U.K. We were told that the company had plans to roll it out to users in the U.S. and Germany within the following weeks with a worldwide availability by summer. Well, summer is coming to an end, and we still don’t have worldwide availability. However, Microsoft announced today on its Outlook Blog that Skype is launching in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Canada, and Brazil today, and will continue to roll out the integration to users in other countries “in the near future.”
If you’re not sure if Skype’s available yet in your Outlook.com account, check to see if a banner drops down on the right-hand side of your Outlook.com screen. There, you’ll be able to send instant messages to both your Skype contacts and your Messenger contacts. To Skype with your contacts, you’ll need to download a plug-in. Once you link your Outlook.com account with Skype, a prompt will appear to install a plug-in for Internet Explorer, Firefox, and or Chrome.
According to a recent Ipsos Public Affairs poll, quoted by Microsoft in its blog post, “76 percent of people say their email conversations frequently or occasionally result in a follow up phone or video call, or other means of communication.” Clearly, Microsoft’s Skype integration in its Web-based email service is its way of taking on Google’s Gmail, which offers both text and video chat within the same Google Hangouts window.
If Outlook.com isn’t your jam, and you prefer to use the desktop apps, Skype will be joining the Start Screen apps in the soon-to-be-released Windows 8.1.
Do you use Outlook.com? Let us know what you think of the new Skype integration in the comments below.