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Summary:

Skype in the browser is finally arriving, but there’s a bit of a catch: The service is fully integrated with Microsoft’s Outlook.com email service. It’s a smart move by Microsoft to integrate the service, which will require a browser plug-in.

Skype in browser

People pining for Skype video calls directly in the browser have something to look forward to today, provided they use Outlook.com for their email. On Tuesday, Skype announced a preview of web support for its audio, video and instant messaging services in Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome. The service is integrated directly with Outlook.com, making it easier to make and receive Skype calls directly from your inbox.

Skype is rolling out the new service Tuesday in the U.K., with the U.S. and Germany to follow in the coming weeks. Worldwide availability is expected over the next four to five months.

Being based in the U.S., I can’t test Skype over the web just yet, although I’d like to since I use a browser-based Chromebook Pixel as my full time computer. In the meantime then, I’ll have to be satisfied with this Skype demonstration video:

Note that in order to get Skype in Outlook.com you’ll have to install a browser plug-in. That tells me that Microsoft likely isn’t using the WebRTC protocol to enable Skype in the browser even though last year it signaled support for it. Firefox and Chrome already support WebRTC, which natively allows for audio and video calls in browsers without any plug-in required.

It would be nice to see Microsoft eventually open up Skype to browsers without requiring Outlook.com. I doubt it will; at least not for a long while. Kudos to Microsoft from a business perspective, however: it’s a smart play  to make the company’s email service more attractive to the millions that already use Skype around the world..

  1. i certainly understand how this is attractive for chromebook users who up until now could not use skype, but why would anyone with a PC, OS X or linux machine prefer to use a browser plugin over a standalone always on client?

    seems for over a decade there has been talk of the future of VOIP being in the browser but i just do not get it. i use gmail calling quite a bit because it is free and works well to call out from my google voice account but the the fact that it works in the browser is a disadvantage. i would much prefer a standalone desktop client.

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    1. “machine prefer to use a browser plugin over a standalone always on client?”

      At Work.

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    2. Good point, Tom. I see the value in the integration: Just like you can start a Google video chat from Gmail, you can do a Skype call directly from Outlook.com. Contacts are integrated between the two as well.

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  2. there’s already imo.im

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  3. Skype in outlook is awesome. Easy of use for the everyday Joe

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