By Jim Courtney, Toronto, Canada
Two weeks ago Skype released version 1.0 of its Skype for Outlook Toolbar, which had been available in beta versions over the previous three months.
From the Skype website:
“This toolbar brings all your Skype and MS Outlook contacts together in one handy place. That means you’ll be able to call Skype contacts who email you and make SkypeOut calls to your Outlook contacts who aren’t on Skype yet, all through the toolbar.”
Effectively Skype for Outlook Toolbar introduces the communications functionality of the Skype client into Outlook such that all your Skype communications activities can be managed from Outlook. It mines your Outlook for contact information, incorporates Skype Usernames and results in a Toolbar from which you can launch all communication via Skype, SkypeOut or Skype Chat. At a more abstract level, Skype for Outlook is an implementation of two of the building blocks of Voice 2.0 with its ability to combine both presence and directory information with single click access to trigger a communication session.
A detailed review of Skype for Outlook Toolbar can be downloaded here Download file
It covers all aspects of the Skype for Outlook Toolbar including installation, configuration, incorporation of Skype Usernames, presence information, e-mail integration, use with Outlook Contacts, launching conference calls and Outlook Journal entries. As an example, using all the recipient names in an email one can launch a conference call from a single window via the “Start conference call…” command:
From the conclusion:
Skype for Outlook Toolbar allows Outlook to incorporate Skype presence and contact information; it converts Outlook into a full service personal communications management platform. It gives you the opportunity to gain practical experience with two primary building blocks of Voice 2.0: presence and directories. You can even become your own conference call operator.
I have found Skype for Outlook most useful when traveling. Find a hotel offering high speed Internet, connect your PC, launch Skype and go to Outlook to launch all your phone calls, bypassing costly hotel switchboards and eliminating the need for calling cards. It was also very useful for me when recently doing a demonstration in a local hospital where I had no long distance authorization and was restricted from using a wireless phone, yet I needed to contact a tech support operation on the west coast.
A final comment: the beta versions of Skype for Outlook Toolbar were criticized for slowing down the operation of Outlook and several minor “irritants”. The release version has addressed these concerns either through modification or removal of features that inhibited the operation of Outlook’s primary function. ….. The result is a utility that is now a standard component of my Outlook operation; I can heartily recommend that you give it a try. For me it has passed the Jeff Sandquist seven day rule and become a part of my daily work life.
Over the past 33 years Jim Courtney has held general management and sales and marketing management positions with high technology companies addressing business, government, healthcare and academic markets. Ten years ago, while a business development manager with Quarterdeck Corporation, he had his first exposure to VoIP through Quarterdeck’s development of a pioneering VoIP software application, WebTalk, that worked on 100MHz Pentium PC’s with 28.8kbps modems. In early 1996 he participated in an analyst presentation in London, England from his Mississauga, Ontario office demonstrating Quarterdeck’s VoIP and web conferencing software and has continued to hold an interest in the evolution of VoIP and web conferencing as a communications tool. For the past nine years he has been a business development and business plan consultant to start-ups and emerging companies providing solutions in healthcare, communications and Internet infrastructure markets.
Posted [on Skype Journal] by Guest Blogger at 07:06 AM