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Microsoft has added the ability to make Skype calls within the Outlook.com e-mail service. The site, which left beta in February, will allow Outlook users in the United Kingdom to access their Skype contacts, make calls, and communicate using instant messages, all from within the browser instead of launching external applications.
The update, detailed on the Outlook blog, will gradually roll out to UK users before becoming more widely available and then expanding to the United States. Users will see a pop-up box alerting them that the Outlook.com account is enabled for Skype, and will prompt to link the Microsoft and Skype accounts if it has not already been done. Audio and video calls require a web plug-in to be installed on the browser, though instant messages do not require this. Microsoft has previously proposed a web standard that allows for Skype without plug-ins, though the WebRTC standard is still being worked on by a number of parties.
The normal Skype clients have also seen some upgrades. Skype for Windows users will be able to take advantage of the Video Messaging function that has previously rolled out to iOS, Mac, and Android users. The beta version of the client works fine within Windows 7 for creating and receiving messages, but users on Windows 8 and Windows Phone will have to settle with being able to only view the messages for the moment.