Skype preview released for UK users

Outlook - Skype

Microsoft has started rolling out a preview version of its Skype video calling and messaging service to a select group of users in the UK.

By merging the two products, the software giant said users will be able to add their Skype contacts to their address book and call them back with "just a click" of the mouse.

The functionality is initially being offered to a sample of users in the US and UK for testing purposes, before being rolled out to all users in due course.

The software giant announced the move in a blog post yesterday, which features a step-by-step guide about how to use Skype in

We'll gradually make Skype calling available to all customers as we update the experience based on your feedback.

"With Skype coming to, we're bringing two of the world's largest communications services together in one place," wrote Douglas Pearce, group programme manager of connected services at Microsoft.

"We'll gradually make Skype calling available to all our customers as we update the experience based on your feedback," he added. users selected to participate in the preview will be notified by a pop-up within their inbox, and can use their existing Skype account to take part.

To make use of the offering's video and audio call functionality, users will need to download a Skype web-plug in first, but this won't be necessary if they simply want to take advantage of its instant messaging capabilities.

Windows Messenger users upgraded to Skype as part of Microsoft's retirement plans for its ageing instant messaging platform can also draw on the merger to call their contacts using a web browser or Skype client, the blog post confirmed.

"As with any new experience we build, we'll be listening to feedback from the community and welcome your comments and ideas," added Pearce.

"When the Skype preview arrives in your inbox, we hope you try it out and let us know what you think."

The appearance of Skype is the latest enhancement Microsoft has made to, since ushering it in as a replacement for Hotmail earlier this year.

The switchover has hardly been plain sailing for the firm, with many users complaining about's new Windows 8-like interface and how difficult the new webmail service is to navigate.

Read our tutorial here.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.