Microsoft has released Skype 6.1 for Windows, adding integration with its Outlook mail client to the IP telephony and messaging client.
Available to download now from the Skype website, the new desktop client gets a makeover with a visual update to its toolbar. But the most significant enhancement is integration with Outlook, enabling users to send a Skype message or start a Skype call from within Outlook.
This integration works with Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, from which users will be able to see the Skype online status and mood message in the Outlook contact card, according to Microsoft.
Users can message any of their Skype contacts directly from Outlook, while Skype can also be used to initiate a voice call to mobile and landline numbers as well as direct Skype-to-Skype calls.
Microsoft said that the integration allows users to call anyone whose contact information is in Outlook, even if that person is not a Skype contact. However, calls other than Skype-to-Skype sessions require Skype credit or a subscription, as usual.
The move comes as Microsoft retires its Windows Live Messenger service in favour of Skype, which the firm announced its intention to do late last year.
Prior to this, there had been much speculation about what Microsoft's plans were for Skype, following its acquisition of the firm in 2011.
Microsoft also released a version of the Skype client for its Windows 8 platform last year.
Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.