Ever since Microsoft bought Skype two years ago, we’ve been expecting more and more integration between the messaging service and Microsoft’s online properties. Today’s announcement, that a preview of Skype integration into Outlook.com is another step along that path, and although there’s still quite a ways to go, Skype is becoming more a part of Microsoft every day.
According to a blog post on the Skype “Big Blog”, the preview will begin as soon as today in the UK, followed by a rollout to the US and Germany “in the coming weeks”, and then worldwide availability “this summer”. The service will require a one-time download of a browser plugin (available for the “most recent versions” of IE, Chrome, and/or Firefox), and then just connect Skype to Outlook.com using your Microsoft account (if you haven’t already, you’ll need to link your Skype and Microsoft accounts).
After that, using Skype for Outlook.com is simple, according to the post:
Just click on the Skype audio or video call buttons in your IM conversation. To start a call while reading an email from a friend on Outlook.com, move your mouse over the friend’s picture and click on the Skype audio or video call buttons that appear above his or her contact details.
Here’s a quick video showing off Skype and Outlook.com integration:
While we’re still waiting for Skype to catch up to Windows Live Messenger in terms of basic IM functionality (we still really miss simple drag and drop image sharing!), and, well, basic functionality, we’re glad to see that Microsoft continuing to make progress. If you’re in the UK and are able to access Skype for Outlook.com, let us know what you think!