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How to install and use the Google Hangouts plugin for Microsoft Outlook

Google's Gmail is a formidable email service, offering many features. Sadly, the UI is a bit poor and the overall feeling is amateurish. Many true professionals access email using the gold standard - Outlook. While Microsoft's email software sometimes feels a bit bloated, that is probably because it is chock-full of useful things. Other than email, it is a dream for calendars, task-tracking and overall life organisation.

With that said, whether I am on Windows or Mac, I always am sure to install Office so I can setup my email accounts with Outlook - including Gmail. Unfortunately, by using Outlook rather than the Gmail web interface, I lose out on some goodies, such as starting a Hangout.

Well, today this changes, as Google announces Hangouts and Outlook are hanging out with each other.

"Today we're launching a Google Hangouts plugin for Microsoft Outlook. Now you'll be able to start, join or schedule a Hangout directly from Outlook Mail and Calendar. For example, if you're deploying Chromebox for meetings, now you don't have to stop using Microsoft Outlook to schedule Hangout video calls. Simply download the plugin and you'll be ready to join the conversation", says Google.

If you have administrative rights to your workstation, you can install the plugin by doing the following:

On a Windows computer, open a browser and go here. Click Download Hangouts Plugin for Microsoft Outlook. Run the downloaded HangoutsOutlookPlugin.exe to complete the installation.

This is great news for business users that wish to integrate Google Hangouts into their repertoire, but don't want to stop using Outlook. Sadly, this is a Windows-only affair. According to Google, it will not be compatible with Outlook 2011 for Mac -- lame.

Will you install the plugin? Tell me in the comments.