In what can be described as a predictable development but nevertheless a masterstroke in terms of overall strategy, software giant Microsoft is bringing Skype video calling to every Outlook.com inbox, taking the cloud working and unified communications revolution forward in leaps and bounds.
It will be a move watched closely by the telecoms world either as a game-changer or a potential threat to a struggling revenue base.
Starting today, Microsoft is rolling out a preview version of Skype for Outlook.com in the UK, to be followed by the US and Germany in the coming weeks.
“In the coming months, audio and video calling powered by Skype will be available in every Outlook.com inbox,” said Microsoft’s product director of marketing for Skype, Simon Longbottom.
Outlook.com attracted 60m users in the first six months after its launch, which Microsoft says makes it the fastest-growing email service in history.
“Even with the best email service, sometimes text isn’t enough,” Longbottom said. “We all face those situations where it’s just easier to jump on a call to talk something through. Sometimes that quick call can accomplish more than a long email reply. That’s why we are bringing Skype audio and video calling to your Outlook.com inbox.
“Now, with Skype for Outlook.com, you can choose the right medium for your message, whether it is an email, call, video call or instant message (IM) – you can connect with your Skype and Messenger friends all in the same place,” Longbottom said.
The move to integrate Skype is a logical progression in a series of moves the company has been making on the unified communications front since it acquired Skype in 2011 for US$8.5bn.
Earlier this month, Microsoft closed down its popular Windows Live Messenger service and urged users to start using Skype with their Microsoft login details.