Recent talk had both Facebook and Google in a bidding war for Skype. Earlier today, news was floating around that Microsoft might be close to cracking a deal with the Luxembourg-based VoIP experts. Now, Microsoft has officially announced in a press release that it will be acquiring Skype - a deal that is valued at roughly $8.5bn dollars, making it Microsoft’s biggest ever buyout. In the words of Steve Ballmer, the companies will work together to create a "future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”
[RELATED_ARTICLE]The press release further details the roles Skype will play: "Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms."
As for just how the merger will work, Skype will become a new business division within Microsoft, with current Skype CEO, Tony Bates, taking the role of the President of the Microsoft Skype division. Skype has been around in the acquisitions world for a while, and was recently written off by eBay in 2009, after it failed to effectively integrate it into its ecosystems ever since it acquired the company in 2005. Perhaps the innovative and successful VoIP service is really meant to stand alone? Microsoft has a much better chance of pulling something off, with the WP7-Xbox-Windows ecosystem ripe for VoIP even on the consumer side, aside from the possibilities on the enterprise side.
Stay tuned for more details about the deal as they're released, and check out the press release for more details.