Skip to main content gets full Skype integration to rival Gmail's Hangouts gets Skype call integration to rival Gmail's Hangouts
Microsoft plays it vague; Aussies may get the roll out "in the near future"...

Microsoft's attempts to usurp Google's Gmail webmail service were boosted today thanks to the integration of Skype within

In an official blog post, Microsoft confirmed that Outlook users can now make voice and video calls without leaving their inboxes, as well as engage in IM chit-chat with their Skype contacts.

The company had been testing the service in the UK since April, but has now issued a public roll-out for users in the UK, United States, Germany, France, Canada and Brazil, with a limited global release to follow.

No word yet on if or when Australia will be seeing the feature, as it is "still working hard to ensure this is available worldwide in the near future."

In order to enable Skype within the webmail client, Outlook users must first link their two accounts and then download a plug-in from their web browser.

Hitting at big G?

According to Microsoft, recent studies have shown that 76 per cent of people say email conversations "frequently" lead to phone conversations and it hopes the presence of Skype within Outlook will simplify that process.

It also gives Microsoft another means of tackling its arch nemesis, Gmail. Google's webmail service has Hangouts integration, allowing text, video or voice calls within the app too.

Microsoft has gradually integrated Skype across its various platforms since buying the popular VoIP client back in 2011.

The company recently confirmed Skype will be the default messaging service within the new Windows 8.1 update, coming in October.

Code red for Tag

Meanwhile as Microsoft opened one door, it closed another by shuttering its Tag reader service, the company's alternative to QR codes.

Microsoft Tag enabled users to create a 2D barcode that would link out to content on the web. However, just like QR codes themselves, Tag hasn't faired too well.

The company has ceased work on the tech, but has licensed it to QR code provider Scanbuy, which will support it from September 18 this year.

Via Mashable