Editorial

Microsoft, your Skype integration with Outlook.com isn't just bad, it's embarrassing

Microsoft is a company made up of many services, platforms, and even hardware and from time to time they will mash a couple of these products and services together in an attempt to create a better experience for the consumer. In the most recent consumer facing integration, the company has turned on a new Skype experience inside of Outlook.com.

The concept is quite simple and fundamentally, it is a good idea. By being able to access your Skype account inside of Outlook.com, it gives you another place where you can use the service. If you are on a friend's computer or in public; it's a good solution for still being able to chat without downloading any software.

But there is a problem: it's a frustrating mess and it is ruining Outlook.com.

If you use Skype, you likely have a client downloaded on your machine and if you use Outlook.com, there is good chance that you will use that service through the web interface. The problem arises if you have Outlook.com and Skype open at the same time.

If you have both the app and the email client open and someone sends you a message, both the Outlook.com window and the Skype app will fire off a notification for the message with their own sounds.. Worse, the Skype apps and the Outlook.com instance of Skype do not sync read notifications either. So once you get done chatting with someone, you have to go and clear the messages in the Outlook.com tab as well, otherwise the tab will continue blinking for all of eternity until you manually clear the message.

A simple solution would be logging out of the Skype session in Outlook.com...but you can't. There is no 'log out', you can't turn off notifications, you are stuck signing into Skype every time you check your email and are forced to deal with the awful integration experience.

There is no way to turn off the chat integration

I did reach out to Microsoft to see if I could find a work-around to my issue to stop this mess and while the company did acknowledge that there is room for improvement, right now, there is nothing that can be done. But, they did say they are working on the shortcomings of the integration, so if you are a believer in that the future will be brighter, you can sleep soundly tonight.

Sadly, this is not the first time Microsoft has tried to integrate Skype into Outlook.com. The two services first meshed back in 2013, and at that time, the service was a mess as well. There was an infamous bug: the Outlook.com instance of Skype would never stop ringing if you answered on another machine but at least there was a way to turn off the functionality if needed; so it seems Microsoft has actually gone backwards.

How the company came to the conclusion that they should go live with a service integration that has no off button, no way to log out, no way to mute notifications and does not sync messages across its apps, is befuddling. If their goal was to intentionally degrade the Outlook.com experience, they have earned an A+ for their effort.

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