It’s official: Skype’s been adopted by a generous family in Redmond, Washington. Actually, Microsoft has finalized plans to buy Skype for $8.5 billion in cash and promises to expand Skype’s network installation while enhancing its own communications portfolio with Skype’s audio and video calling. Skype will become a division within Microsoft with current CEO Tony Bates becoming president of Microsoft Skype.
Microsoft won’t kill off Skype’s non-Windows properties, but the company’s new focus will obviously be on Microsoft properties. Does this represent the death of Skype as we know it or a rebirth fueled by Microsoft’s deep pockets?
This isn’t the first time Skype has been bought and sold; the company spent four years under eBay’s reign and was handed off to investment group Silver Lake in November 2009. Now that Microsoft has control, “Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.”
With Kinect already in millions of living rooms, Microsoft is definitely eager to get Skype onto the Xbox 360 to add one more feature check mark to the box. With Nintendo revealing a console at E3 this year and Microsoft’s next generation system likely 1-2 years away, it’s relying on Kinect to keep the 360 selling for awhile longer. How many people would really use Skype on an Xbox 360? We can’t see it as a huge selling point, but Kinect owners might jump on the chance if it’s free and convenient.
The Windows Live platform stands to gain the most from this technology. Live Messenger’s video implementation has never been great, and Microsoft might rip it out in favor of superior Skype video calling. And I’ll be honest: I’d never even heard of Microsoft Lync until today. Microsoft can definitely raise the profile of its video services with a big ol’ “powered by Skype” banner.
On the mobile front, the Windows Phone 7 Skype app (currently in the works) may become the premiere app; there’s no way Microsoft will kill development of the Android and iOS apps, but it might hold back some features or strive to monetize those versions. We can see the Mac platform being the most neglected. The Windows version already leads with updates and new features. Unless that Microsoft money means every version of Skype will be updated more frequently, Mac users may be weeks or months behind PC users as new features are rolled out.
Given Microsoft’s business empire, the Skype for Business software has room to grow and could become a big part of Microsoft Skype’s business strategy. Where do you think this partnership will benefit (or hurt) Skype VoIP?