Skype and Outlook.com get an overhaul, Skype for Web beta expands in US and UK

Microsoft has launched an updated Skype beta release for the latest version of Outlook.com and new Skype Click to Call features for mobile users. In a separate announcement, Microsoft also disclosed it is expanding its beta trial of Skype for Web to all U. S. and UK users.

The updated version of the Skype beta for use with Outlook.com is designed to make it easier to use Skype together with the subscriber’s inbox. With the integration, users can click on the Skype icon to see which friends are online, view recent conversations and search for other Skype users. Skype contacts can be added directly to Outlook.com, and Skype chat messages are synchronized across devices; a browser plug-in allows users to make voice and video calls.

The new Call from mobile feature lets Skype users send phone numbers from their computer browser straight to Skype on their mobile device, also making it easier to spot phone numbers by automatically highlighting them wherever they appear in the browser so users can call those numbers with one click through their Skype account.

A Skype for Web Beta version is also now available for all new and existing users in the US and UK. The Skype for Web version allows users to engage in conversations downloading the Skype app. Skype for Web is especially well suited for using Skype on a mobile device, or for such as those in an internet café or hotel that doesn’t already have Skype downloaded. The service does require a Skype ID and password. Skype for Web supports imports the user’s contacts and conversations to the screen, also enabling search for people and groups on Skype with a new timeline view that providers a single, searchable list.

Commenting in a Microsoft blog post, Jonathan Watson said that “Skype for Web is an important step for Skype as we move towards implementing the technology to make Real-Time Communications (RTC) on the web a reality.”

Our observation: these developments are also important as Microsoft Lync features morph into Skype for Business-- and the Skype for Web service can serve as an important transition step for Microsoft as is evolves to more fully support for WebRTC protocols.

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