Just as Microsoft is allegedly starting to dabble in voice over IP, a third-party plug-in for Skype allows the VOIP company to dabble in Microsoft, so to speak, by integrating the service with Internet Explorer and Outlook e-mail.
Beta versions of the two plug-ins appeared Tuesday on Share Skype, a site that attracts developers and enthusiasts who use the openly shared Skype API. After downloading and installing the plug-ins, Skype users should be able to easily access the PC-to-PC voice service while using either Outlook or the IE Web browser.
Skype spokesperson Kelly Larabee said the company is waiting to hear feedback and suggestions from users before speaking about the software at any length.
“Skype will continue to enhance usability and ubiquity through extended integration with other desktop applications to deliver more collaboration potential and to continue defining modern communications,” Larabee added.
The IE plug-in is designed to work with browser versions 5.0 and upwards, on computers using Windows 2000 and Windows XP. After installing the program, a Skype Toolbar will appear at the top of the browser window, meaning users will be able to contact and speak with other Skype users while surfing the Web.
Other functions include the ability to call numbers directly from Web pages, view the presence of Skype users via “callto” links in Web pages, change online status from the Toolbar and call contacts through IEs right-click menu, among others.
The site acknowledges that while the plug-in is “safe to use,” it still has a few kinks that will be “addressed shortly.” Those include a few minor details—unpolished icons, language translations—and a few unspecified problems may arise if users of the plug-in try to uninstall Skype from their computers.