Skype has been fully integrated with Microsoft's Outlook webmail service in the UK, following several months of testing.
The feature, which has been available for some users since the end of April, allows people who have connected their Skype and Outlook accounts to start a Skype video call from within their web browsers.
Users must download a plugin for either Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome in order to use the feature, which is now available to all customers in the UK, US, Germany, France and Canada. Microsoft said it is "still working hard to ensure this is available worldwide in the near future".
In an announcement on Microsoft's Outlook blog, group product manager Dawn Martynuik cited research that justified the use of video chat in an email service. "In a recent Ipsos Public Affairs poll 76 percent of people say that their email conversations frequently or occasionally result in a follow-up phone or video call, or other means of communication. Those moments are perfect for Skype and now, face-to-face connection right from your inbox is just a click away," she said.
Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 for $8.5bn and integrated the service into its Outlook desktop software in January this year.
Last week, it was announced that Windows 8.1 – the long-awaited update to last year's Windows 8, which is due to launch on 17 October – would come with Skype installed as standard. "With Skype in Windows 8.1 it will be easier than ever to connect and do more with the special people in your life, in any moment," the company said on its blog.
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