Microsoft has rolled out a preview version of Skype for Outlook.com, the free personal email service from Microsoft, bringing voice and video calling functionality to Outlook.com inboxes. Users will have the ability to make audio and video calls directly from their online web platform, without the need for firing up a separate Skype program.
According to Microsoft, UK users are the first in the world to get access to the new service, while it will reach users in the United States and Germany in the coming weeks.
To enable this functionality, you will first have to install a plugin for your browser, which is available for the most recent versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox, after which they can connect Skype to Outlook.com using their Microsoft account.
Users who have an existing Skype account would be able to link their Skype and Outlook.com in a few steps, and merge them. The process allows users to add all of their Skype contacts to their Outlook.com contacts. They’ll be able to see online users under the messaging section and send them text messages. Clicking on the contacts’ display picture will bring a calling menu that will allow them to initiate a voice or video call. The same can also be done via the People Hub.
Outlook.com’s competitor, Google’s Gmail already offers text, voice and video chat within the inbox. In fact Google is said to be working towards consolidating all its chat services under one brand, in the near future.