As was widely anticipated, Microsoft has purchased Skype for $US8.5 billion. That news has created a lot of panicked reactions along the lines of “oh no we’ll all have to use Windows Live/what about cross-platform support?/Redmond is evil”, but no matter what changes eventually happen to the Skype platform, it’s likely to be a while before we see them.
There are two key details to note in the announcement of the buyout. Firstly, it’s going to take some time to settle all the regulatory issues associated with a deal of this size. Microsoft is predicting that the purchase will be settled this calendar year, but that means we’re unlikely to see a lot of product changes for quite a while.
The second is that while Microsoft has placed a lot of emphasis on how it can make Skype work better with its own products (including Windows Phone 7 and Kinect), it has also said it will continue to build versions for the Mac and for other mobile platforms. CEO Steve Ballmer made that point very directly during the Skype buyout press conference:
We will continue to support non-Microsoft platforms, because it’s fundamental to the value proposition of communications . . . We obviously love Windows, and we love Windows Phone, and we love the Xbox, and we’re going to do a lot of work together to design these things and optimise the work that we do across the device, the operating system and the communications software, no question about it. But, fundamental to the value proposition of communications is being able to reach everybody, whether they happen to be on your device or not. And I think that, in fact, will be one of our competitive advantages, both for the Skype communications services, and in fact, for the devices as we move forward.
What’s your take on Microsoft buying Skype? Do you think it will change how you use the product? Share your thoughts in the comments.