Today Microsoft announced that Skype integration inside its Outlook.com email service is now live and out of preview in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Brazil and Canada.
The combination of Skype and Outlook.com brings together two of Microsoft’s most popular services, and provides the email service with a material competitive edge in its war with Google’s Gmail. Outlook.com has enjoyed a quickly growing user base that expanded organically, and also via a massive infusion of Hotmail users, who Microsoft shunted over as it shuttered the older service in favor of the new.
Microsoft paid billions for Skype, a bet that video communication would wax and not wane in the future. Outlook.com has more than 400 million active accounts, and so the combination of the two could lead to a larger footprint for Skype itself.
Gmail, of course, is tied to Google Hangouts. However, I’d argue that Hangouts, while interesting, are not on par with Skype in terms of call quality and dependability. That’s ironic, as Skype is no prince of call fidelity.
In its blog post announcing the release of the feature, Microsoft pointed to a poll result indicating that 76 percent of people “say that their email conversations frequently or occasionally result in a follow-up phone or video call.” And now, provided that they use Outlook.com, Skype will be right there.
The feature will be extended to more countries in time, the pace of which will likely be dictated by user demand in particular markets and user response in the countries that were activated today. If you want the integration and lack it, start making noise.
Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble