Skype now official Microsoft
The last hurdles facing the EU had been already closed last week, so the deal to buy skype for $8.5 bio was concrete. Skype has now become a new business division in Microsoft.
Also Microsoft welcomed Skype officially into it's team on thursday.
Internally at skype, it was made clear, that the acquisition still means, that skype will continue to be served on all available platforms, and development will of course focus for more interaction with microsoft products.
New Division at Microsoft
Skype CEO Tony Bates, now head of Skype Division at Microsoft, will have to report directly to MS CEO Ballmer, and seems enthusiastic about the deal.
Microsoft and the fight for Instant Messenging
Microsoft already had a bad run taking over the IM (instant messenger) business, MSN only could take shares after preinstalling MSN on Windows XP (which was a conglomerate between his hotmail chat IM and the famous video-over-ip software NetMeeting) - which could kill off ICQ back then at least in europe, but it was not enough to stay there or take on AIM in the states. MSN failed especially against skype. Now Skype is both: audio/video over IP (a video-phone) and a chatsoftware (an IM) and competing with the now dominant technique at google: jabber and its various voice layers labeled "jingle".
Interesting in the fight for the best instant messenger: Facebook uses an internal jabber layer for its messaging (which makes a lot of sense - however only supports chatting between facebook users, while google talk is a valid decentral jabber service), but integrates skype for voice/video in the browser, while google started it's web based "hang out" at Google+, extending google talk to the web.
My own opinions - you can stop reading here :)
Back in the last century, when ICQ took out its competitors in europe, merging with AIM and holding the market for "chatsoftware with your buddies" for most techies then, Jabber, the open XMPP Protocol was already available but only slowly evolving. Google and Yahoo both used XMPP, google especially tried to use XMPP in multiple ways (like Google Wave) spreading jabber into the mainstream, but in the segment of voice software, jabber/jingle never really took off. Also, until today, most people know the terms "skype", "messenger" or sometimes even "icq" or "aim", but "jabber" is still not that widespread.
Now the fight has been taken into social networks officially, still, this fight will only be won by how many people use the clients without the webbrowser. Let me clarify, why I think so, even if the trend is to have "all in the webbrowser" nowadays (and in the near future). Because, in the end, I believe the UNIX philosophy of "a tool has to do one thing and one thing good" is the most appealing to all of us humans. We like to set up our set of tools and try to make them stay where they are until they bug us. It's true for webbrowsers, e.g. We like installing our own webbrowser, because we rely on a browser which does good browsing. Or at least we hope, the neighbors' kid knew what he did when he installed our pc.
Foremost, only software which works independently or with the ability to be reintegrated again and again you have the assurance, it will stay with your business in 20 years.
Skype has the lead there for chatsoftware. MSN took a whole generation of young computer users, and was based mostly on myspace (remember?) in the web, but it was annoying in its feature set and not very well accepted in older generations for sometimes good reasons. It was also a pain to deinstall.
Skype however comes on your phones. On your tablets. Can run on your desktop. Sometimes it even detects internet in areas, where you should theoretically not have it. While being the network administrators' pain, it is the users' delight. And of course, in skype, file transfer always works.
Now why I still think, success depends on the gadget usage of the protocol, at the moment, skype's fate will be closely tied to facebook and microsoft, as was MSN to myspace. XMPP however, is only "represented" by google+ - but again also facebook. We have to keep that in mind.
Google hopes, the ease of using hangout on your webbrowser will win the war for them. And it might do well, because honestly, Google can still win the social network war by decentralizing its software stack any time. Something facebook is technically at the moment not able to. So facebook may be a dead fish in 10 years, google aint.
But still, without a good client for all your gadgets, may it be your desktop pc or your Xbox console, skype at the moment is heads first, and a great asset for Microsoft. As long as they don't mess up the client for good. Well. And there I do have some concerns.
References: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/07/us-skype-microsoft-eu-idUSTRE79645C20111007, http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2011/oct11/10-13SkypePR.mspx, http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2011/10/13/tony-bates-weighs-in-on-microsoft-s-acquisition-of-skype.aspx