European Union approves Microsoft’s Skype deal

By Tom Warren, on 7th Oct 11 4:39 pm with 33 Comments

Microsoft's Skype deal approved in Europe

Microsoft got the green light for its Skype takeover on Friday.

The European Union’s competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, announced on Friday that Microsoft’s Skype acquisition is approved in Europe. The deal will allow Microsoft to press ahead with its plans to acquire Skype and integrate its communications service into several products. Microsoft could have faced a delay for its EU approval after an Italian software firm voiced concerns that Microsoft may bundle Skype with its Windows operating system. Microsoft issued the following statement on Friday:

“We’re pleased that the European Commission has approved Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype. This is an important milestone, as we’ve now received clearance from both the United States and the European Union. We look forward to completing soon the final steps needed to close the acquisition, bringing together the employees of Microsoft and Skype, and creating new opportunities for people to communicate and collaborate around the world.”

Microsoft originally announced its plans to purchase Skype back in May. The deal is valued at $8.5 billion and will see Skype integrate closely into Microsoft as an organization and service. Skype CEO Tony Bates will assume the title of president of Microsoft’s new Skye Division. Bates will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The software giant is expected to integrate Skype support into Xbox, Windows Phone, Kinect, Outlook and Lync. The support will bring a compelling audio and video service to Microsoft’s various products.

Microsoft’s European approval follows U.S. approval in June. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stamped its support on the deal that will see Microsoft part with $8.5 billion in cash. Microsoft has promised not to remove the Skype branding and will also support Skype on rival platforms to ensure compatibility and reach across operating systems like OS X, Android and BlackBerry OS. The acquisition will also bring Microsoft’s instant messaging market share up to around 70%.

Skype currently has 170 million connected users and saw over 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010 alone. Microsoft previously revealed a Skype application for Windows Phone earlier this year. Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore introduced the Skype app during his MIX 2011 keynote in April. Belfiore introduced a number of new developer related enhancements in Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. “We’re excited to see Skype come to the platform this fall when all these additional enhancements are available,” said Belfiore at the time. The application is expected to be made available shortly for Windows Phone 7.5. and could take advantage of Microsoft’s new forward facing camera support.

Skype for Windows Phone 7.5

  • FuzzyLogician

    Skype seriously can’t come to WP soon enough.  It should have been released with Mango.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pedro-Roque/100000194503830 Pedro Roque

    Wow! The morones in the EU Commission act sensibly? Hell must be frozen by now!

    • http://twitter.com/OldCongress Gamer

      Yeah, morons that forced Microsoft to remove Media player and Internet explorer.

      Why not ask MacDonalds to remove Coke as Pepsi complains about the unfair competition?

    • Anonymous

      Better yet, why not ask Apple to remove Safari and Quicktime?

    • Seth_p

      or Chrome from ChromeOS, oh wait… lol

    • Anonymous

      Nice one Seth!

    • Guest

      Because the original argument was that MS had a dominant position in PCs. Of course now that everyone is pitching the “Post PC” era, volumes of mobile+tablets exceed PC sales, and Apple currently dominates that, one could argue that Apple is more dominant and therefore should be forced to adhere to the same restrictions.

  • PG

    Great news, hope to see the skype app within the next few weeks (hopefully days), and also skype integration in the xbox 360 dashboard.

  • Anonymous

    Very cool! Especially excited about this coming to Xbox Kinect

  • GP007

    Another piece of the puzzle is now in place.    Can’t wait for the next phase, probably skype app for WP7 and updates to other services to integrate skype as well.  Like, I think adding skydrive support makes sense, so you can share files with contacts with the people on Windows and also on Windows phone.

    • Impartial

      I think Skype will baked in right into the OS. But you’re right, for the time being it will probably only be an app

    • Guest

      I agree. That’s probably why they haven’t released anything before the approval. It would have been too risky if the EU said no.

    • Guest

      And let’s not forget the business market, which is probably where the real payoff for MS lies:

      http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385129,00.asp#fbid=nN-Qot9DNO3

  • Anonymous

    Great, now ship it!

  • http://twitter.com/Joelleigh Joel leigh

    Kind of sucks this deal took so long to go through, cause I bet it will just be an ‘app’ rather than integrated into the OS like facebook chat etc..  I hope I am wrong.

    • Anonymous

      For the time being, yeah.  Maybe they will integrate it with Tango, but more than likely I think real integration will have to wait for WP8.  Yeah, the long time it has taken has kind of sapped the original hype I felt for this deal.

  • http://twitter.com/OldCongress Gamer

    Grats!!!

  • Anonymous

    Skype will now be integrated in to  the Windows 8 beta ‘Chatter Service”, n hopefully in Windows Phone Tango :)

    • guest

      I doubt it. They’re feature swamped up until Apollo. We’ll see how much money/resource they throw at it.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, now they need to merge the Skype and Live accounts.  I don’t want/need to maintain 2 profiles and 2 lists of contacts.

    • Anonymous

      Something tells me that will be their first order of business, and one I wholeheartedly think they should do as well. Which also directly leads into Facebook/Twitter integration.

      Aside from that, they will likely move the service to MS’s cloud in the immediate future as well.

    • Jinge

      Would be nice, but it is not exactly the same system: Skype use a lohin name, live accounts don’t have such things. It might be complicated. 
      But being able to associate/link a skype account with a live account would be possible, but don’t know how they would manage contacts

  • Emi Cyberschreiber

    Finally!
    i cant wait to see Skype what happens to this Skype division over Microsoft products, and see Microsoft name when i open skype :P
    and im glad these people in EU comission didn’t ruin it.
    yesterday in wmpoweruser i got banned from an article for calling these EU Commission
    people idiots. i mean, EU guys even magically fined Microsoft for alot of money over Windows Media PLayer.
    and surprisly there were always “fined for an additional blabla” trying to milk Microsoft as a cow.

    and we cant forget MS have a version with no IE because “harms competition between web browsers
    ” bullcrap

  • MUAHAA

    I herd android already had it as an app for atleast two years.

    • Hei

      Android can say buh bye!  j/k :)

    • Anonymous

      Android just say hello to the better Hangout :p

    • Anonymous

      App != integrated!

    • http://twitter.com/efjay01 Ef Jay

      How is that any measure against a platform that has been around less than 1?

  • Anonymous

    Once Skype users start seeing the MSFT logo on their stuff, they will quit in droves.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, there are a certain percentage of boneheads and bigots who would simply stop using a product because of a brand change.

  • Frylockns86

    Expecting that Italian company to scream Anti-trust in 3, 2, 1…

  • Entegy

    $8.5 million? I thought it was $8.5 billion.

  • Jasper

    Wonder what the name of the future App will be, after integrating it with Lync, I can think of 2 possibilities:
    Lype or Skync