Microsoft has integrated Outlook.com with Skype in several countries, including the U.K., the U.S. and Germany, offering users the ability to tap Skype functions and contacts from within the interface of the webmail application.
The link between the two products lets Outlook.com users do Skype video chats, audio calling and instant messaging. Other countries where this is now available are Brazil, France and Canada. Microsoft plans to offer this integration worldwide "in the near future," Microsoft said in a blog post on Monday.
Microsoft is pursuing this integration because email exchanges are often escalated to audio and video communications, so bridging the interface gap between Outlook.com and Skype makes sense, the company said.
"Email is an important and personal tool for most people, but there are moments when you want to be able to speak live or chat face-to-face," wrote Dawn Martynuik, group product manager of Outlook.com, in the blog post.
Ironically, Outlook.com already has links with Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Outlook.com hit a rough patch last week, when it malfunctioned in various ways for an undisclosed number of users between Wednesday and Sunday. The glitches impacted mobile access to the inbox and the ability to share SkyDrive files via email.
Outlook.com has had other stability, availability and performance problems in recent months, including a high-profile outage in mid-March.
Microsoft launched a preview of Outlook.com in July 2012, billing it as a reinvention of webmail from the user interface to the back end designed to let the company better compete against Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Outlook.com eventually replaced Hotmail as the company's webmail service.
Last month, Microsoft celebrated Outlook.com's 1-year anniversary, rattling off a long list of positives, but also acknowledging that the service hasn't been as stable as expected.
"We had some bumps over the last year and there were places where our performance hasn't met the high standard we set for ourselves," Dick Craddock, group program manager of Outlook.com, wrote in that blog post, published on July 31.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.
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