For many it came out of the blue, but when Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype was announced in May 2011 a few pieces of the jigsaw for Redmond’s future direction suddenly fell into place. Following approval of the takeover in both the USA and Europe, Microsoft is now able to push on with its renamed Microsoft Skype Division able to provide the same video chat and voice over IP calls (VOIP), while integrating the service into existing and future products such as Windows Phone and Windows 8.
The move makes sense; Windows Live Messenger is excellent at what it does, but Skype does all that and more. As a result, Windows Live Messenger’s days are numbered.
But the real question about Microsoft’s purchase of Skype concerns its probable use in Windows 8.
While the purchase has been given the green light by American and European regulators, this doesn’t mean that Redmond has avoided controversy. In fact, once the major telecom companies realise what the implications are, we could see changes to the way in which we use Skype.
No Question of Investigation
There was never really any chance that the purchase would be refused by the authorities in the USA or Europe, mainly due to the overlap between the existing Windows Live Messenger and Skype itself. As a result, the door has been opened for Skype to be integrated into Microsoft products.
Skype is already available on iPhone and Android, so it makes sense that Windows Phone should be its next stop. Meanwhile, users on Windows, Mac and Linux can enjoy video, voice and text chat via the popular service. It seems very likely that Microsoft will be keen to further integrate Skype into Windows as well as bring it to the forefront of enterprise services such as Microsoft Office Live.
Don’t be surprised to see it on Xbox 360 either, but most of all, watch out for Skype becoming a key element of Windows 8!
Great Stuff – You Can Call from Your PC with A Single Click!
As things stand, we download Skype, install it, create an account and use with a webcam, microphone/headset or simply a keyboard to communicate with other Skype users, for free, and without integrating with other software. Plugins are available for the application, but these are largely for recording calls or customization and are often provided by third parties.
One of the main disadvantages of Skype is the trouble you have to go to in order to import existing contacts. It’s possible by syncing the service with Facebook, but this isn’t particularly elegant, and depends on whether your Facebook account has all of the contacts you would want or need to speak to on Skype.
If a couple of sneak peek photos from a recent Windows 8 BUILD seminar are anything to go by, however, Microsoft’s next operating system will feature Skype as either a native tool or an app that can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store. Images from the seminar reveal a Start menu tile listing missed calls: imagine being able to use Skype as an always-on service, making calls with a single click from anywhere in the Windows 8 OS
There is even a suggestion that as the service places calls over VOIP, Microsoft might be considering specifying SIM card slots on their Windows 8 laptops and tablets…
How Microsoft’s Skype Acquisition Affect the Telecoms Industry?
At $8.5 billion, Skype represents a massive purchase for Microsoft, one that might just reshape the way we think about the company and its history of acquisitions. However, while the anti-competition committees might be happy about the purchase, the telecom companies might just have a problem.
As things stand, Skype is completely voluntary. No one has to have it on their computer or phone. But with Microsoft’s purchase, this changes things considerably. When Christmas 2012 comes around and people across North America, the EU and Asia open their new Windows 8 tablets, laptops and PCs, they could find that Skype is there, ready and waiting to be used. Native video, voice and text chat will be available to millions of people on the same day… and they will all want to try it.
As we know now, Skype is handy and easy to use, if a little unwieldy for certain functions. But by integrating it into the Windows 8 OS, Microsoft brings the service front and center, making it a key element of the Windows 8 experience.
Once the new Windows 8 users have made a video call to the other side of the planet and realised how easy Skype is to use, why should they bother making phone calls with an old-fashioned handset?
Microsoft had no reason to fear an anti-trust investigation with its purchase of Skype, because it’s the telecom companies and their industry regulators that are the real threat, not just to Redmond but to the wallets of people using the web. If standard domestic landline use drops in favor of Skype, then the telecom giants will see their profits fall, and the easy fix for them is to increase the cost of accessing the Internet.
It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. Interesting, and hopefully not too expensive for the end user.
Warren, Tom. “EU expected to approve Microsoft’s Skype deal this week,” http://www.winrumors.com/eu-expected-to-approve-microsofts-skype-deal/
Windows 8 BUILD Preview screenshot: http://www.windowsfordevices.com/images/stories/windows8phonecall.jpg
Microsoft to Acquire Skype, http://about.skype.com/press/2011/05/microsoft_to_acquire_skype.html#more