Launch a Gchat session right from an Outlook.com email message with the Google contacts integration.
Google's instant messaging service has been integrated into the Microsoft universe, at least when it comes to the Web based Outlook.com and the cloud based SkyDrive storage app.
Stuck on Gmail
Outlook.com may have corralled 400 million active users, but Gmail is still the king of Web based email. Enough of them have clamored for a gchat integration, apparently, for Microsoft to make this benevolent move. Outlook.com already connects with Skype and Facebook, and now Google Contacts will be allowed to be pulled into the new look Microsoft email.
Respond to Outlook emails via chat, and sync contacts together are two handy features that will be rolling out over the next few days as the integration goes worldwide.
If Microsoft really wants people to choose Outlook over Gmail, this is a good first step, but it will take much more to bring people over in droves. Migrating contacts is a start, but allowing people to migrate historical emails complete with labels and folders is even more important. Perhaps Microsoft will never make that kind of move, but given Outlook has only been out of beta for a few months, it's certainly possible.
SkyDrive, People App for Windows, People Hub for Windows Phone
Google contacts will also integrate with SkyDrive, the People app for Windows and People Hub for Windows Phone. Additionally, the Outlook calender will also feel the Google love, so the Google and Microsoft cross pollination should feel pretty seamless when this is finally available.
To connect to Google, Outlook and SkyDrive users need to visit the Messaging pane and authorize the Google integration. Once this is established, Google contacts will start showing up in the contact list, and clicking those people's pictures will start up a chat session. Likewise, searching the Messaging pane will also turn up Google contacts from there on out.
We can definately see people using Outlook.com as a secondary email service, but so far it hasn't really convinced us to switch from Gmail. It does a fine imitation of Gmail, certainly. At least at a glance, it has several similar design stylings and features like inline responses. Those things could make it more appealing to plenty of new users, and whether or not people actually abandon their Gmail accounts in favor of Outlook, at least Microsoft could win a few new users of its vast ecosystem of products.