Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) messaging client, Skype, has always operated as a separate entity or as an included software but never integrated, until now. Initially, Skype for Outlook was available to a selected area of U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Brazil and Canada for a preview. The company has now announced Skype for Outlook, the integration of the messaging client onto its web-based emailing service worldwide.
Users would have to download a plug-in onto their existing browser (currently supports Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Safari). After a simple install, the plug-in application will support messaging, voice, and video. High definition resolution video calling are available to those with supported HD webcams. Users are able to connect their Outlook to their Skype account or use the existing Microsoft account.
Big step for Microsoft?
The company is simply playing catch up. Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Gmail has had support for their very own messaging client, Hangout, for years. Microsoft also followed lead in supporting a cloud-based storage, OneDrive after Google’s success with Google Drive. Of course the integration would benefit both application creating a grand total of 400 million user base.
In the current state, Google has a combined user base of 540 million users in Google properties and 300 million users in Google+. That is more than double of both Microsoft’s platforms combined. Despite just catching up to Google, this puts Microsoft on an even playing field in terms of application integration. Allowing users to seamlessly use emailing, messaging, video chat, and cloud storage all in one client is beneficial.
Google still has a tremendous advantage besides the user base, such as Google document, and free group video support. Microsoft might need to bring themselves to innovate in order to be on top of competitions.