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Microsoft simplifies the email to Skype call transition

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 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 U.K. since April, but has now issued a public roll-out for users in the U.K., United States, Germany, France, Canada and Brazil, with a global release to follow.

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 Sept. 18 this year.

Via Mashable