You can soon pay bills directly through your Outlook inbox

You won't have to launch your browser or an app.

If you manually pay the bills that pour into your email inbox, you know it can get tiring: you typically have to launch your browser or an app and wade through any number of screens to send your money. Microsoft might have a better way. It's developing a framework that uses Microsoft Pay to handle bill and invoice payments directly inside Outlook. Companies will need to use a supported service (such as Braintree, Stripe, FreshBooks and Intuit), but this could reduce payments to just a few clicks.

The feature won't be available right away. Microsoft plans to introduce it "in phases," starting with a small number of users in the next few weeks and others in the months ahead.

This isn't just a convenience. Microsoft won't make money from these bill payments, but hooks like this would give you a specific reason to use Outlook instead of another email app or your browser. It's also a lure for third parties, whether or not they're handling money. If they see people lining up to use Outlook payments, they may decide that it's worth integrating their own services.

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