Skype 6.1 for Windows improves account management, adds Outlook integration

Microsoft has released Skype 6.1 for Windows and Skype 6.1 for Mac. Despite the same version numbering, both builds are effectively separate developments, with the key changes coming in the new Windows desktop build in the form of a toolbar refresh and integration with Microsoft Outlook 2010.

The new release comes hot on the heels of Microsoft’s announcement that its older messaging service -- Messenger -- is being retired worldwide (with the exception of mainland China). Contrary to original reports, the service will not go offline on March 15, but that is the date when Microsoft will begin to migrate Messenger users over to Skype ahead of its planned switch-off.

Skype 6.1 for Windows continues the recent theme of Microsoft tying in its recent acquisition more tightly with existing products and services. The key change here sees Skype being integrated into Microsoft Outlook (2010 or later), firstly through its contacts list -- now users can see contacts’ Skype status, contact information and mood message within their Outlook contact card.

Also added is the ability to call people on their mobile or landline directly from within Outlook itself, which triggers Skype to initiate the call using the user’s credit or subscription as payment. This works with all Outlook contacts that have phone numbers attached, not just Skype friends.

As well as adding phone capabilities, users can now also start Skype chats, video and voice calls directly from Outlook too, so long as the contact exists in both Skype and Outlook.

Additional improvements to Skype 6.1 for Windows itself include simplifying the process for adding a contact -- users can now search for them directly from their contacts list and add that person with just two clicks. The account profile screen has also been updated to provide more detailed information about the user’s account as well as options for managing the user’s account directly from within the program itself.

Also released is Skype for Mac 6.1. This update is less radical than its Windows’ counterpart, but includes the updated account profile screen, plus click-to-call support in Safari, which requires a separate download.

At time of writing, Skype 6.1 for Windows is not yet available through the program’s own update checker. Users can, however, download it directly and upgrade over the previous version. Also available as separate downloads are Skype for Mac 6.1, Skype for Linux 4.1, Skype for Windows 8, Skype for iPhone, Skype for iPad and Skype for Android.

Photo Credit: Goodluz /Shutterstock

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