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RingCentral Brings Click to Call to Outlook in Office 365

Continuing down the path it has taken to differentiate itself by integration, RingCentral today announced that it has brought its communications capabilities to a place where so many of us spend a good chunk of our day -- Microsoft Office 365.

The RingCentral Office for Office 365 integration will allow joint RingCentral and Microsoft customers to embed RingCentral communications capabilities into their core productivity workflow. In this iteration, users will be able to initiate communications and collaboration from within the Outlook 365 Web interface, as well as from the Contacts and Calendar views, as shown in the video below.

The integration brings RingCentral's enterprise-grade cloud PBX into the Outlook 365 environment so users can initiate calls, conferences, and Web meetings, as well as send instant messages (and see presence). Phone numbers within the Outlook 365 interface are clickable for calling -- inside or outside the company. In addition, the integration combines a user's RingCentral and Outlook contacts in a single interface, and auto-populates the Outlook 365 calendar when the user sets up an online video or audio conference.

In a recent No Jitter interview, Marco Casalaina, vice president of integrations at RingCentral, described the new offering as "hub-style integration." As RingCentral has done previously with its Google for Work integration, it aims to turn Outlook into a true communications hub, he said. While users often spend good chunks of their day in apps like Gmail and Outlook and treat them as communications hubs, on their own these tools "are missing a whole bunch of communications, at least for business," he said.

The Office 365 integration is available at no extra charge to all RingCentral Office customers, about 20 of whom have been beta testing the offering. The functionality is available via browser extension; a Chrome plug-in is available now and an Internet Explorer version will be coming soon, the company said. Also on the development docket for this integration is a tab for and interoperability with a user's Lync/Skype for Business client, RingCentral said.

Microsoft has given RingCentral Office for Office 365 a thumbs up. "RingCentral's innovation in cloud business communications is helping Office 365 customers become even more productive wherever they are," said Pat Schlight, senior director, US Partner Group, at Microsoft, in a prepared statement. The integration provides the companies' mutual customers "more choice and simplicity in how [they] communicate and get work done."

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