Under the heading “Type Less. Talk More.” Microsoft has announced that users will be able to make Skype calls directly from their Outlook.com mailbox. This early “Preview” version of Skype for Outlook.com will begin to be rolled out in the UK today followed by the USA and Germany in the coming weeks. Redmond intends Skype audio and video calling to be available to “every” outlook.com mailbox in the few months thereafter.
If you use Outlook.com you will probably know that it already integrates with Messenger and Facebook text messaging services. While you have the email page open in your browser it can be quick and convenient to send simple messages via these services from there. Skype integration could bring a lot more messaging functionality with its audio and video capabilities.
Microsoft has thoughtfully composed an advert showing why you might want Skype integration in your webmail inbox.
I’ve just been to my Outlook.com email account but wasn’t prompted to install any Skype plugins, nor was there any sign of Skype-ability in the messaging pane so it looks like this new additional service isn’t rolled out as far as me, as yet. Actually I already auto-run the Skype program which also contains my messenger contacts so I would probably decline the request to install another browser plugin.
The Skype blog says Outlook.com attracted over 60 million users is just six months (figures seem to come from February, when the service came out of preview). A lot of users have joined up as Microsoft seeks to migrate Hotmail users to the new service and new Windows 8/RT users are encouraged to make an account on their new machines.
Since Microsoft bought Skype from eBay for $8.5 billion in 2011 messaging has grown a lot, especially with mobile apps such as WhatsApp, LINE and Viber. Recent reports show that such instant communication programs are now rivalling SMS in terms of message volume. Microsoft needs to do better with Skype to prevent it becoming the MySpace of messaging. Integrating it with many other Microsoft services seems to be the current progress plan.