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Microsoft says use Skype as it kills support for Facebook, Google chat in Outlook

The end is near for chatting with Facebook or Google friends from Outlook.com without using Skype.

Skype sign
Credit: Ryan Fanshaw

Microsoft started sending out emails to announce that in the "next couple of weeks" it will discontinue support for Facebook and Google chat in Outlook.com.

Microsoft launched the ability to chat "with friends stuck on Gmail" back in May 2013. In the email announcement, Microsoft blamed Google – and included a link – to Google's "decision" to drop Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) support. XMPP was originally named Jabber.

The email to Outlook.com customers stated:

Within the next couple of weeks, we will be discontinuing support for Facebook Chat in Outlook.com. And due to Google's decision to discontinue the chat protocol used by the Google Talk platform, we can no longer provide Google Chat in Outlook.com. We understand that this may disappoint some of our customers, but we hope that you'll try Skype for Outlook.com chat, and voice and video calling, so you can take advantage of the more robust ways to keep in touch with friends and family.

This update will not impact the connection to your Facebook and/or Google accounts, which means your People page will stay updated with the latest contact information from the services you've connected. 

But hey if you have the silly desire to still chat from within Outlook, then Microsoft says don't worry, as it has you covered since it conveniently owns Skype.

We're confident that Skype for Outlook.com provides the best experience for chatting and making voice or video calls, right from your inbox, when the conversation warrants richer communication than an email exchange.

Microsoft then suggested taking the following steps:

  1. Activate Skype for Outlook.com by clicking on the Messaging icon in your inbox header.
  2. Click on the Skype icon to join or sign in. Link your Outlook.com email with a Skype ID if you already have one, or use your Outlook.com address to create a new one.
  3. Navigate to the People page, and add existing contacts as Skype contacts, or add new contacts. You're ready to start chatting.
  4. To make free Skype to Skype video and voice calls right from your inbox, simply download the plugin.

Microsoft offered no additional information about why it's ending support for Facebook; instead it went to straight to kicking Google – perhaps an opportunity it couldn't pass up since Google's Project Zero has zinged Microsoft a couple times. A quick check shows that Facebook Chat was compatible with XMPP in its first API version. API v1.0 was introduced in April 2010; Facebook's current API is version 2.2. Support for the nearly five-year-old version 1.0 ends on April 30, 2015.

When pressed to comment on its plans to kill off Facebook and Google chat, Microsoft added:

Most Outlook.com customers already prefer to use Skype when they are chatting and we see this as a great option for anyone impacted by Google's decision to shut down Google Talk & associated APIs, or the recent deprecation of Facebook Chat for Outlook.com. With Skype for Outlook.com, you can easily connect with your Skype friends right from your inbox, so you can go straight from email to chat, or a voice and video call.

Lastly, please consider turning "off" any type of "history" that you allow Microsoft, Google or Apple to keep on you. A hot thread on Reddit claims that your voice samples are shared with third parties. In "Everything you've ever said to Siri/Cortana has been recorded...and I get to listen to it," Reddit user FallenMyst claims to work with Walk N'Talk Technologies, listening to sound bites and giving feedback on if the text accurately matches the audio clip.

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