Voice and Email Merge in Skype for Outlook

Microsoft last week officially rolled out a preview version of Skype for Outlook.com, allowing users to launch video and audio calls right from their email inboxes, in the United Kingdom. The product will be made available in the United States and Germany in the coming weeks, with worldwide availability expected within the next four to five months.

The application supports Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome Web browsers, but to get Skype in Outlook, users will need to install a browser plug-in. Once installed, users simply connect Skype to Outlook.com using their Microsoft accounts. They will also be able to link their Skype contacts to their Outlook.com contacts, and vice versa.

To use the app, users click on the Skype audio or video call buttons in their IM conversations. To start a call while reading an email from a friend on Outlook.com, the user needs only to move the mouse over the friend's picture and click on the Skype audio or video call buttons that appear above his contact details.

"Even with the best email service, sometimes text isn’t enough. 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," Skype's Simon Longbottom wrote in a blog post announcing the launch of the service. "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."

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