Microsoft's Outlook.com email service has been growing steadily, with some users making the switch from Gmail in order to have a more unified Windows experience, among other reasons. One aspects of making the switch from Gmail to Outlook that caused issues for some users, however, was the inability to chat with Gmail contacts, a fairly big sticking point for some of us. To remedy that, Microsoft has announced an update to the service that brings Gmail chat integration.
The feature, which is being rolled out over the course of the next few days, integrates your existing Gmail contacts so that they can see and message them from within Outlook.com, matching them with integrated contacts you might have from other services as well, such as Skype. The information is then available via the contact information summary page.
Initiating a chat with Google contacts can be done from both Outlook.com and SkyDrive once they're connected. The feature - when it rolls your way - will appear under "Add people to chat with," showing up as a Google contacts option. After selecting it, another window will open with Google's "Request for Permission" page detailing what permissions Microsoft will be granted, including access to contacts, basic account info, and the ability to view and send chats.
Once you grant permission (by clicking "Allow access"), your Google contacts will be synced with the Microsoft account, appearing under the contact list with native Outlook.com contacts. As mentioned, the chat ability is also available on SkyDrive in addition to Calendar, the inbox, and People. For example, according to Microsoft, when working on a document, two contacts can chat from within SkyDrive, making real-time editing communication easier.
Says Microsoft, the feature is rolling out now, so some lucky users might already have access to the feature. Those who aren't seeing it yet will by the end of the week, according to the announcement. In the meantime, users are advised that some "quirks" may present themselves over the course of the week as a result of the update. Likewise, users are told to keep an eye on SkyDrive, as that is where it'll pop up first, followed by your inbox, then finally People.