Back in April, Microsoft launched a preview version of Skype for Outlook.com. After reading through the user feedback and making a few updates, Skype for Outlook is now available to all residents of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Brazil.
According to the official Outlook Blog, the pairing is a match made in heaven. Citing the results of an Ipsos Public Affairs survey, Microsoft explained that 76% of people follow up their email conversations with a phone call, video chat, or in-person meeting. Needless to say, integrating Skype directly into the inboxes of millions of users is an appreciated convenience.
To further enhance the user experience, Skype contacts are automatically ported over to your Outlook contact list. Instant messaging should also work as-is; however, a browser plugin must be installed in order to communicate face-to-face. Furthermore, an existing Skype ID isn’t actually needed to access the service; any Microsoft account serves as its equivalent.
Interestingly, Outlook.com underwent an outage for a few hours last week. Although Microsoft attributed the error to a failure in a caching service, Windows IT Pro speculates that the downtime may have been related to the upcoming Skype integration. Rod Trent, the IT Community Manager for the publication, wrote, “As IT folks, we know that rolling out new software can create a butterfly effect, causing issues that were unexpected. And, as IT, we always tend to make up stories over the true causes since most end-users would never understand anyway.”
The new Skype feature is compatible with the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. For those not living in the six supported countries, Microsoft says that they’re "working hard to ensure this is available worldwide in the near future.”