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Skype for Outlook is finally here and it's good

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Microsoft is finally getting all of its services together in the same room. Microsoft announced that Skype for Outlook is now available worldwide. Outlook users will now be able to hold Skype chats and HD video calls directly from Microsoft's Outlook email service.

It's very easy to link you Skype account with you Outlook email. All you have to do is download a specific web browser plugin, which will allow the two services to connect. The plugin is available on the Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox web browsers. Then, if you already have a Skype account you just sign and and you're connected. If, for whatever reason, you don't have a Skype account yet, you can use your Outlook email address to log in to Skype.

Once the two services are connected, you can put voice and video calls from Skype in your inbox on Outlook. Microsoft has also fixed several bugs that plagued users in earlier versions of the service. That incessant ringing you used to hear during your important phone call? Gone. The lack of HD video call support? Remedied. Of course, to use the HD video function, you and the person you are calling must have HD web cams, HD displays and broadband Internet.

There are a lot of different ways to Skype with your contacts within Outlook. First off, you can always click on the chat button in Outlook to type in a specific person's name and start a chat, voice or video call from there. Secondly, if you're chatting with someone and you decide that you want to hold a voice or video call with that person, all you have to do is press the voice or video call buttons in the chat box. Lastly, if you're checking an email and you find that you need to call that person, you simply hover your mouse over the person's picture and click voice or video call.

Microsoft's scheme to integrate Skype into Outlook closely mimics Google's integration of Hangouts into Gmail. It's a very logical step and many would call it a no brainer. If Microsoft wants Outlook to compete with Gmail, it needs to give users the same great functionality. It's also a good move for Skype, which has recently fallen a bit behind other messaging and chat apps.

Previously, the integration of Outlook and Skype was only available in a handful of countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Brazil and Canada. Now, it will be available worldwide and Microsoft's 400 million Outlook users are saying, Finally.

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