August 20, 2013
Microsoft’s Outlook Users Can Now Use Skype From Their Inbox
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Skype videoconferencing is now built directly into Microsoft’s Outlook.com email service for users in the UK, United States, Canada and others. Microsoft vowed it would begin offering email users the Skype feature since April and now say they hope to begin rolling it out in more countries “in the near future.”
Once a Skype account is merged with an Outlook.com email account, users only need to install a plug-in for the Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer browsers to place a video call directly through their inbox. The instant messaging feature of Skype, however, will not require a special plug-in.
When the Windows maker announced the merger of these two services in April, it announced it would begin rolling out previews to users in the UK, US and Canada “in the coming weeks.” Nearly four months later, the service is being completely rolled out to Skype customers who may have been waiting for their chance to try the new feature.
Microsoft acquired Skype, already a popular video chatting service, in 2011 for $8.5 billion. The company then began building the feature into their other offerings, which includes Xbox 360. In that time, Skype users have continued to make video calls and carry on instant message conversations, racking up a combined two billion minutes a day on the service.
It was last summer Microsoft first mentioned tying videoconferencing and an email inbox together.
Skype and Outlook.com have now been intertwined for users in Brazil, France and Germany, along with those in the UK, US and Canada. Throughout the process, Microsoft has positioned video chatting as the binding agent to keep the different modes of communication pinned together.
“Email is an important and personal tool for most people, but there are moments when you want to be able to speak live or chat face-to-face,” explained Dawn Martynuik, an Outlook.com product manager in an official blog.
According to Martynuik, a recent public opinion poll claims 76 percent of those surveyed claim their email conversations usually fall back on a phone or video call. This, says Martynuik, is where an integrated Skype comes in handy.
To promote this new change, the Redmond, Washington-based software giant is working with author and food expert Gail Simmons.
According to the website CHOW, users can submit recipes for a chance to win a video call from Simmons. For each entry submitted, Microsoft will donate $10 – $20 if the recipe is sent from an Outlook.com account – to Common Threads, a charity which teaches children how to cook healthy meals. The recipes must feature an ingredient list hand-picked by Simmons, including basil, brown rice, carrots and ground turkey.