Microsoft has integrated with Skype in several countries, including the UK, US and Germany, offering users the ability to tap Skype functions and contacts from within the interface of the webmail application.

The link between the two products lets users do Skype video chats, audio calling and instant messaging. Other countries where this is now available are Brazil, France and Canada. Microsoft plans to offer this integration worldwide "in the near future," Microsoft said.

The company is pursuing this integration because email exchanges are often escalated to audio and video communications, so bridging the interface gap between and Skype makes sense, the company said.

"Email is an important and personal tool for most people, but there are moments when you want to be able to speak live or chat face-to-face," said Dawn Martynuik, group product manager of

Ironically, already has links with Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter. hit a rough patch last week, when it malfunctioned in various ways for an undisclosed number of users between August 14 and August 19. The glitches impacted mobile access to the inbox and the ability to share SkyDrive files via email. has had other stability, availability and performance problems in recent months, including a high-profile outage in mid-March.

Microsoft launched a preview of in July 2012, billing it as a reinvention of webmail from the user interface to the back end designed to let the company better compete against Gmail and Yahoo Mail. eventually replaced Hotmail as the company's webmail service.

Last month, Microsoft celebrated's one-year anniversary, rattling off a long list of positives, but also acknowledging that the service hasn't been as stable as expected.

"We had some bumps over the last year and there were places where our performance hasn't met the high standard we set for ourselves," said Dick Craddock, group programme manager of