Microsoft begins roll out of Skype for Outlook.com: video calls direct from inbox

20 Aug 2013

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Skype’s video calling service can now be used directly from Outlook.com for users in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Canada and Brazil, with more countries to follow suit in the near future.

The integration of video calls with the email service was first announced in April, at the same time it was reported that Skype users were racking up 2bn minutes of calls per day.

Skype for Outlook.com allows users to make video calls directly from their inbox, simply by clicking a contact followed by the video call icon. Comparisons to Gmail’s combination with Google Hangouts are obvious and, no doubt, Microsoft wants to make sure its service offering is no less than its competitors’.

But as well as rivalling Gmail, Microsoft has other strategic reasons for enabling video calls from the Outlook.com inbox. “In a recent Ipsos Public Affairs poll, 76pc of people say that their email conversations frequently or occasionally result in a follow-up phone or video call, or other means of communication. Those moments are perfect for Skype and now, face-to-face connection right from your inbox is just a click away,” wrote Outlook.com’s group product manager Dawn Martynuik in a post on the Outlook Blog.

It’s a perfect marriage of communications, made even simpler by the fact that Microsoft owns Skype as of 2011, following an acquisition that cost US$8.5bn. Microsoft has been pushing the use of this service by its customers ever since and even retired its own instant messaging service in the process.

The new Outlook.com launched just over one year ago and emerged from a beta release in February this year with 60m users. It also connects with users’ Facebook and Google accounts in an effort to provide a one-stop-shop for communication with contacts.

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com