In another small step forward for Outlook.com, Microsoft has announced that it is making Skype available through the Outlook.com interface. However, unless you are part of a small group of people in the UK that have been offered access to a small beta test, you will have to wait until a little bit later in the year for the new functionality.
This is just the latest in a series of moves that has slowly but surely built up Outlook.com to such a point that if it is not an absolutle 'must-have' for social-savvy IT users, then it is close to getting there.
Indeed, it has already connected it to most of the big social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google, and in doing so, places all the content in those networks within easy reach of your mailbox.
Outlook.com and Skype together
Recently, it also secured that content by adding two-tier authentication while the calendar interface upgrade and the new Android app gave it added mobile appeal.
However, the addition of Skype will surely put it in an entirely different league. With it, Outlook.com users will automatically see any messages from Skype users and will be offered the option of replying to those messages through video calling.
Keeping in mind that it is not yet available for the majority of Outlook.com users, once the service is available to you, it will be flagged using a banner like the one below in your inbox.
By clicking on it, the step by step process is as simple as starting up Skype, which can then be used either through Outlook.com, or you can use Skype as you did before on its own. If you already have an established Skype account and a separate Outlook.com account you will be able to link the two.
The result is that all you’re Skype contacts will appear in your Outlook.com contact list and you will be able to call them, or IM them directly from your Outlook.com contact list by simply clicking on their picture.
You may also recall that Skype took over from Microsoft Messenger and sucked all IM contacts into Skype. Needless to say, users of Outlook.com will still be able to see and use those contacts too as they did in the past.
In all, it turns Outlook.com in a powerful, single point for social or video interaction. Keeping in mind that by the middle of summer, Microsoft will have moved all Hotmail accounts to Outlook.com and that Outllook.com will have access to Skype and Instant Messenger through Skype, then the integration of Skype and Outlook.com should result in a considerable boost in the number of Skype user numbers.
Finally, the integrated Outlook.com and Skype will roll-out on a gradual basis, and is likely to undergo some changes as it gets feedback from its community so watch out for further upgrades here as the roll-out continues. In the meantime, check out the video for more on this.