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.