Microsoft shoehorns Skype into Outlook.com - we quickly kick the tyres

Phonecalls-in-webmail plugin unleashed on the web, what could possibly go wrong?


Vid Microsoft has slotted voice-chat app Skype into Outlook.com, melding email and telephony into a single platform - which almost works smoothly.

The functionality comes with a browser plugin, and makes video and voice calling as simple as sending an email, aping Google's Hangout platform but with Skype's infrastructure.

Outlook will keep track of one's existing Skype account, storing the password and username – though given they're both run by Microsoft that's not really a security issue. One's Skype contacts are supposed to appear in Outlook, but when we tried it they all appeared as "(Unnamed)" and lacked any contact details at all, forcing us to go back to the Skype client to call them.

Here's a video of how someone in Redmond imagined the software would work:

But others have had more luck integrating their accounts so perhaps we shouldn't judge the service just yet. The plugin is available for Internet Explorer 8 and higher, Chrome 19 and Firefox 12, on Windows. Mac users will need Chrome or Firefox, but don't expect compatibility with Safari or the Mac version of IE either.

Windows RT users will be disappointed too, as the plugin won't work for them, but RT users are probably used to such disappointments by now.

But assuming one has the right browser, and agrees to merge Skype and Outlook accounts, then a bar should pop up offering the Skype plugin and everything should work perfectly.

The move was announced earlier this year, and has been in testing for a while, so it comes as no surprise. Bringing together two of Microsoft's most important brands is a sensible move, though one has to wonder how long the Skype brand will last in this new world of truly unified communications. ®


Other stories you might like

  • AMD claims its GPUs beat Nvidia on performance per dollar
    * Terms, conditions, hardware specs and software may vary – a lot

    As a slowdown in PC sales brings down prices for graphics cards, AMD is hoping to win over the market's remaining buyers with a bold, new claim that its latest Radeon cards provide better performance for the dollar than Nvidia's most recent GeForce cards.

    In an image tweeted Monday by AMD's top gaming executive, the chip designer claims its lineup of Radeon RX 6000 cards provide better performance per dollar than competing ones from Nvidia, with all but two of the ten cards listed offering advantages in the double-digit percentages. AMD also claims to provide better performance for the power required by each card in all but two of the cards.

    Continue reading
  • Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus
    A futuristic design won't make people want to come back – just ask Apple

    After nearly a decade of planning and five years of construction, Google is cutting the ribbon on its Bay View campus, the first that Google itself designed.

    The Bay View campus in Mountain View – slated to open this week – consists of two office buildings (one of which, Charleston East, is still under construction), 20 acres of open space, a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term accommodations for Google employees. The search giant said the buildings at Bay View total 1.1 million square feet. For reference, that's less than half the size of Apple's spaceship. 

    The roofs on the two main buildings, which look like pavilions roofed in sails, were designed that way for a purpose: They're a network of 90,000 scale-like solar panels nicknamed "dragonscales" for their layout and shimmer. By scaling the tiles, Google said the design minimises damage from wind, rain and snow, and the sloped pavilion-like roof improves solar capture by adding additional curves in the roof. 

    Continue reading
  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be hoodwinked by a relay attack, leading to the theft of the flash motor.

    Discovered and demonstrated by researchers at NCC Group, the technique involves relaying the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, this hack lets a miscreant start the car and drive away, too.

    Essentially, what happens is this: the paired smartphone should be physically close by the Tesla to unlock it. NCC's technique involves one gadget near the paired phone, and another gadget near the car. The phone-side gadget relays signals from the phone to the car-side gadget, which forwards them to the vehicle to unlock and start it. This shouldn't normally happen because the phone and car are so far apart. The car has a defense mechanism – based on measuring transmission latency to detect that a paired device is too far away – that ideally prevents relayed signals from working, though this can be defeated by simply cutting the latency of the relay process.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022