Microsoft’s plan to integrate Skype's calling features into many of its key products, including Office, Xbox and Windows Phone, is good news for users of these products, especially running on the Windows 7 platform, as Microsoft's products are at their seamless best when working inter-alia.
That said, homogenous systems--whether at desktop level or enterprise level--are more easily compromised than heterogeneous ones.
Microsoft had little choice in supporting competing platforms, as many Skype customers use it on Macs, iPhones/iPads and Android products. Cutting off part of your user base is not the sort of business strategy that's made Microsoft one of the world's more prominent technology companies.
Skype had $860 million (€602 million) in revenue last year and is "a strong and growing business," said Microsoft CFO Peter Klein. He added that its revenue is growing by 20% a year with earnings growing at 40% a year. Skype recently started running full-page ads at the start of video conference calls, and CEO Tony Bates believes “advertising is a very powerful monetization scheme for us."
What will this mean for Skype users? For those on W7 tighter integration with Microsoft's other products, likely with enhanced performance. For users on other platforms, not much. Skype will continue to work, although as elsewhere on the Net, expect more advertising.
This is the biggest acquisition since Intel bought McAfee, and indicates the ongoing trend: large vendors gobble up medium-sized vendors and create a more diverse ecosystem--internally. Media coverage of this acquisition has also shown how critical technology has become to the world of mainstream business.