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Microsoft merges Skype with Outlook in several countries

People living in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and other countries can now make video calls directly from their e-mail.

Microsoft integrates Skype video calling and messaging with Outlook e-mail.

Microsoft has integrated its two biggest communications services: Skype and Outlook.

The tech giant announced Monday that Skype is now available for all Outlook customers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Canada, and Brazil. What this means is that people can use the video calling and messaging service directly from their e-mail. Microsoft first announced it would begin rolling out this feature in April.

"E-mail is an important and personal tool for most people, but there are moments when you want to be able to speak live or chat face-to-face," Outlook group product manager Dawn Martynuik wrote in a blog post. "In a recent Ipsos Public Affairs poll 76 percent of people say that their e-mail 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."

Outlook already connects with users' Facebook and Gmail accounts. So, integrating Skype seems like a natural progression for Microsoft. The company announced last November it would soon retire its instant-messaging client in favor of Skype. Skype executives said in late October that Skype would most likely replace Messenger someday but had declined to provide a public timetable.

Google also gives users the ability to make voice calls and message people through their Gmail accounts. And besides e-mail, the Google Voice feature lets users place calls from Google Hangouts, Google+, and the Chrome extension, holding conversations with up to 10 people at a time.

Further international expansion of Skype for Outlook is expected in the "near future."