Microsoft is integrating Google Chat into Outlook.com, attempting to eliminate one of the factors that prevents Gmail users from switching to Microsoft’s revamped webmail service.
Outlook.com users who connect their Google accounts will be able to chat with Gmail users — or “friends stuck on Gmail,” as Microsoft cheekily puts it — from inside Microsoft’s online interface.
The integration is rolling out over the next few days, according to Microsoft. Google Chat will be available alongside Skype and Facebook contacts for conversations inside the Outlook.com messaging pane along the right edge of the Outlook.com inbox.
Did Google give its blessing to this? A Microsoft spokesperson says, “Google allowed Microsoft to provide this functionality and we’re excited to make it happen as it provides more choice and a better experience for people using Outlook.com.”
Outlook.com is the successor to Microsoft’s Hotmail service, which has officially been shut down. Microsoft announced May 2 that Outlook.com had surpassed 400 million active users.
So what’s next? Google Chat is not yet available in the messaging apps on Windows Phone and Windows 8, although other Google services can be connected to those devices. No word from Microsoft on any plans to expand Google Chat integration to Windows 8 or Windows Phone.