Microsoft revealed today that it is adding yet another new feature to Outlook.com: Google Chat compatibility. Soon, you’ll be able to chat with your Google friends in addition to those with Skype and Facebook.
“Some of you who switched over [to Outlook.com] from Gmail still want to chat with friends stuck on Gmail,” Microsoft’s Douglas Pearce writes in a post to the Outlook Blog. “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.”
In addition to bolstering the current Skype and Facebook chat capabilities, this integration mirrors how you can connect third party social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to the Outlook.com People experience.
The Google Chat integration is rolling out now and could appear in your own Outlook.com account over the next couple of days, Microsoft says. But here’s how it’s supposed to work:
“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,” Pearce explains. “Just click it to get started; setup will only take a minute … 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.”
This Messaging experience works throughout Outlook.com—meaning in People, Calendar, and SkyDrive in addition to Inbox—and you can even coauthor an Office document in the Office Web Apps in real time and chat over GChat using the Messaging pane.
I’m not a Google Chat user, or a big fan of web-based messaging for that matter, but I can see how this will make like easier for Gmail switchers.