The Outlook blog reports that Skype is finally available to all Outlook.com customers in North America, as well as the UK, Germany, Brazil, France, and Canada. Users located outside of the countries listed should expect to see Skype integration soon. Does this mean that Skype users should uninstall the desktop client or Windows 8 application? Probably not, at least not for now.
“Email is an important and personal tool for most people, but there are times when you want to be able to talk live or chat face-to-face,” says the Outlook team. “In a recent Ipsos Public Affairs survey, 76% of people say their frequent or occasional email conversations result in a follow-up phone or video call or other means of communication. Those moments are perfect for Skype and now, face-to-face connection from your inbox is just a click away. “
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Skype can be accessed by pressing the little smiley chat balloon button next to the settings button on the right side of the Outlook client. This opens a panel that runs vertically down the right side that contains the user’s chat messages. Click on the “Start new conversation” input field and a list of online friends will appear, including Facebook friends and Google users (if they are online). Video calls and phone calls can be made by clicking the corresponding button within the person’s chat window.
“We think your email should work with the things you already use,” says the team. “Outlook.com already connects with your friends on Facebook, Skype and Google. Now that you can make Skype video calls from Outlook.com, it’s even easier to stay connected with the people who matter most to you. “
Microsoft began rolling out a preview version of Skype in Outlook.com in April for a select group of people located in the United States and the United Kingdom. Now that it has been released to the masses, users will need to install the Skype web plug-in to make audio and video calls. This will be done once users try to make a call for the first time – just accept the installation.
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“The easiest way to text or call someone is to click on their image. For example, if you get an email from someone and you want to call them, use your mouse to point to their picture, ”the team says. “You will see all the different ways you can communicate with them. If you already have someone in mind and want to send them a message or start a video call, just write their name in the Messages panel ”.
Another good way to access all your friends on Outlook.com is to click the down arrow next to the Outlook logo and choose “People” (Calendar and SkyDrive should be other options). Those who are online have a green stripe on the left side of their icon. Naturally, the phone and video options only work with Skype contacts. Do you need to make a call to a landline or mobile phone? That will require Skype Credit.
To celebrate the launch of Skype on Outlook.com, Microsoft partnered with Gail Simmons, food expert and author, to announce a contest in which consumers can submit a recipe for a chance to make a video call with Gail via Skype for Outlook.com. For more information, head here.acce
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