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Skype users can now make audio and video calls from within Microsoft’s new Outlook.com email service. More details after the jump.

When Microsoft launched its replacement for Hotmail was going to be Outlook.com, the Redmond outfit said that it would be adding Skype video calling to the mix as well. So far, despite the Outlook.com service seeing a few changes here and there, that Skype calling has been conspicuous by its absence. Now though, that’s all about to change depending on where you happen to live.

According to Microsoft, Skype integration with Outlook.com is coming this week, or it is if you happen to live in the UK. US users will have to wait a little while though, as will those living in Germany. There’s no hard and fast date been given out for those two countries yet, other than a particularly vague ‘coming weeks’ timescale.

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Users of Skype will have to install a browser plugin when they tie their account to their Outlook.com presence. This plugin supports all the main browsers, and it will not actually be needed for instant messaging. Once the plugin has been installed, users simply hand over their credentials and their Skype and Outlook.com accounts will be merged. Simple.

But to keep things simple here’s how you’re going to do it any way:

Step 1: Sign in to your Outlook account.

Step 2: You’ll be asked to merge your Outlook and Skype accounts. Sign in with your Skype account when asked. Download all the necessary plug-ins when asked to install.

If you are having issues downloading plugins, get them directly from here: https://rendezvous.skype.com/linking.html#plugin-install-page

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Step 3: Click on the Skype video / audio buttons in the IM conversation you’re having with your family members to initiate a Skype call.

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Which brings us to which Skype features have made the jump from the desktop to the web. According to Microsoft, both video and voice calling are accounted for, as is the aforementioned text chat. That’s everything then, and all but removes the need to use the Skype desktop app at all. You’ll not have to witness all the ads that way, either!

If you happen to live in neither the UK, US or Germany, then you’re looking at an unknown date later this year before you too will be calling people right from within Outlook.com.

Microsoft’s web-based email service may still have some way to go before it can compete with the likes of Gmail, but it’s certainly light-years ahead of where the old Hotmail service was. Microsoft may well be onto a winner this time around, and adding in functionality for things like Skype will only go towards giving Outlook.com the leg-up it needs.

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