The last three months since Outlook.com came out of preview have been filled with releases to help make you more productive and your experience more personal. These were often based on your feedback. There’s a new, modern Outlook.com calendar, a refreshed Outlook.com app for Android devices, two step verification for your account, new international domains for your email address, a preview of Skype calling in Outlook.com and deeper integration of SkyDrive directly within Outlook.com.
We believe people choose to use many different services and that our role is to help them connect to the people who matter most, wherever they are. You see this in the People experience, where you connect to your contact lists from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. And you can already chat with your Facebook and Skype friends. But we heard that some of you who switched over from Gmail still want to chat with friends stuck on Gmail. Today, we’re excited to announce that you can now also chat with your Google friends. With this feature, the next time you’re reading an email from someone who uses Gmail, you can reply with a quick chat right from your Outlook.com inbox. And if you’re working together on an Office document in SkyDrive, you can send an instant message to a Google contact with just a click. We’re rolling out Google chat integration now, so look for it in your inbox over the next couple of days.
Bringing all your people together
In the past, the way you added contact data into an email account or social network was to manually enter all the info or import your contacts from another account. Then, if you wanted to send an IM to someone, you had to invite them and have them accept your invite. We respect the fact that you use many different services and have invested a great deal of time and effort in building those contact lists, and so we believe the best approach is to help you to connect to the services you already use.
Once your services are connected, you can see all of your contacts together in one place. And since you are often connected to a person through more than one service, we automatically match up contacts that are the same and link them together. Of course, you can also link any contacts we missed or unlink any contacts that don’t belong together.
The result is an uncluttered contact list full of people you really know. At a glance, you can see a quick summary of a contact with information from across all those networks. And you’re just one click away from common tasks like sending an email, calling a number, mapping an address, or starting a chat, on any of the services you’ve connected!
Your contacts are synched with the secure, industry-standard OAuth protocol used by our partners like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This helps you stay in control of your data and who has access to it.
Chat with your Google contacts in Outlook.com
When you open the Messaging pane in Outlook.com or SkyDrive, you’ll see a message that helps you set up chat with your Google contacts. Just click it to get started; setup will only take a minute.
As part of setting up the connection, you’ll see Google’s authorization flow. This is how Google helps you control which services can access your Google information. Clicking “Allow access” will allow Microsoft’s chat and contacts services to connect to Google and set up chat. You’re in control of this connection and can change it at any time at https://profile.live.com/services.
That’s it! In just a few moments, you’ll see your Google contacts appear in your contact list. Click on their picture to start a conversation with someone or search for any of your Google contacts right from the Messaging pane.
Chat with your Google contacts on SkyDrive, too
The messaging experience works across your Outlook.com inbox, calendar and People contact list, as well as SkyDrive.com. If you’re working together on a document with a Google friend, you can be chatting with them at the same time without leaving SkyDrive. You can even share a link to the document and edit it together in real time!
Rolling out now
Google chat integration will be available to everyone worldwide in the next few days. While it’s rolling out, you might notice a few quirks if you’re jumping around between SkyDrive and Outlook.com, but that will be resolved as soon as the rollout is complete. If you’re like most people, you’ll see it appear first in SkyDrive and then in your inbox and People page. If you don’t see it in your inbox quite yet, it’s on the way!
If you aren’t one of the over 400 million people who are already using Outlook.com, we encourage you to give it a try. If you’re a Google customer today, it’s even easier to make the switch. And we think that more of you will soon be talking about how your Google friends have gone to Outlook.com.
Let us know what you think of this new chat integration. As with any new experience we build, we’ll be listening to feedback and welcome your comments!
– Douglas Pearce, Group Program Manager, Connected Services