Skype is one of those services that’s loved and hated in equal measure. If you find that you ‘have’ to use it because it is the only way some of your contacts will communicate, you’ll be pleased that it’s no longer necessary to have a messaging client installed – it can all be done from within a browser… with a plugin installed.
Editor’s Note: I’m not really sure that there’s much of a difference between using Skype on the desktop and via a plugin in the browser. Either way, you’re installing software… so it’s really up to you whether you want to do this or that.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype should have made it clear that there were going to be developments on the horizon. If you’re an Outlook.com user, you can chat, and even conduct audio and video calls using the Skype for Outlook.com preview.
The new feature is made available through the use of a plugin, and this is available for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. If you’re using another browser such as Opera or Safari, you’re going to have to stick with the main Skype app.
Start by heading over to the Skype website and click the ‘Sign in’ link at the top of the page and then click the ‘Microsoft account’ link in the ‘Sign in’ section.
Sign into your Microsoft account. And if you already have a Skype account associated with another email address, you can opt to merge the two – just click the ‘I have a Skype account’ or ‘I’m new to Skype’ button.
Click the ‘Merge accounts’ button after signing into your existing account.
Now head over to Outlook.com and sign into your Microsoft account. You may find that there is a Messaging panel visible to the right hand side of the page, but if this cannot be seen, click the speech bubble button to the far right of the toolbar.
Just what you see in the right hand messaging panel will depend on what you have been using your Microsoft account for so far – you may have already linked it to some other services.
Beneath the ‘Add people to chat to’ heading, click the ‘Skype contacts’ link.
As we mentioned, Skyping through Outlook is enabled through the use of a plugin, and you’ll be invited to install it now – just click the ‘Get started’ button.
Click ‘I agree – continue’ and you’ll be directed to the Skype plugin download. This takes the form of a .msi file that needs to be downloaded and executed.
When the installation is complete, close the popup window and return to Outlook.com. You may need to refresh the page and re-enable the messaging sidebar.
Click in the search bar and a list of available contacts will be shown for you to select from – of course you can also perform a search for someone specific.
Click a contact name and you can start a regular text-based chat.
At the top of the messaging pane are buttons to start an audio or video call. Click one of these and a separate pop out window will be used to house your chat complete with a Skype app-style look.