Microsoft – which bought Skype back in 2011 – is starting to rollout the ability to make Skype audio and video calls from within an email thread on outlook.com …

With the preview version of Skype for Outlook.com you can enjoy Skype video and audio calls right from your inbox — less typing, more talking! … Just click on the Skype audio or video call buttons in your IM conversation. To start a call while reading an email from a friend on Outlook.com, move your mouse over the friend’s picture and click on the Skype audio or video call buttons that appear above his or her contact details.

The Skype blog refers to the service as a ‘preview version’, suggesting that it may be the first step towards more extensive integration. The feature is currently being rolled out in the UK, with the USA and Germany to follow “in the coming weeks.”

All well and good so long as Microsoft isn’t planning to devote fewer resources to supporting its standalone Skype clients.

In a related move, we’ve received a couple of tips that chat app WhatsApp is planning to introduce a push-to-talk function. The first came in the form of an email purporting to be a request from the company to a Hong Kong app developer to translate several new strings into Chinese.

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This was followed by a separate tip which is said to be the new interface:

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We’ve asked WhatsApp to comment, and will update if we get a response.

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