Skype adds voice, video to

Microsoft Corp. is extending Skype’s video and voice features to giving users the ability to make voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls from the free email service.

“With the preview version of Skype for you can enjoy Skype video and audio calls from you inbox – less typing more talking,” according to the Skype Big Blog. “…Now with Skype for, you can choose the right medium for your message, whether it is email, call, video call or instant message.”

The service is now available in the United Kingdom and will be rolled out in the United States and Germany in the coming weeks. There is no word yet on when it will be available in Canada. is a free personal email service from Microsoft. In the first six weeks of its launch, attracted more than 60 million new users.

Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 for $8.5 billion. Many analysts saw this move as a way for the software company to grow brand name recognition on the Internet at a time when Microsoft is struggling to achieve more traction in the consumer market.

Other companies such as Facebook, Cisco and Google have considered acquiring or partnering with Skype, which despite its popularity registered a $7 million loss in 2010.

Skype for requires a one-time download of a browser plugin which is available for the most recent versions of Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox.

After downloading the plugin, users can connect Skype to using their Microsoft account.

Skype for is part of Microsoft’s strategy of integrating Skype to its existing platforms. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced key upgrades to Lync which included audio call, instant messaging and share presence as well as enhanced interoperability with Skype.

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