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Microsoft has been promising Skype calling inside of Outlook.com ever since it began switching people from Hotmail to the revamped Outlook service. Back in late April, the feature finally hit beta.
Today, Microsoft is going a step further and now has made integrated Skype calling available to all users of Outlook.com in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Brazil, and France. Microsoft claims Outlook.com has more than 400 million active accounts, so this update touches a lot of people.
The best part of this addition is that you don’t actually need to have the Skype application open to use Skype calling in Outlook.com. It’s also nice because it can add a layer of intimacy to an email conversation. If both parties are already online and have Skype enabled in Outlook.com, why not just fire up a video call?
The full addition of Skype calls to Outlook.com makes Microsoft’s email service more competitive with Gmail, which is the most popular email service in the world and has had video calling for some time. Gmail’s more recent video offering comes with Google Hangouts integration. Hangouts works across email, Google+, and mobile apps.