Microsoft reassures Apple, Android users of Skype

Closes $8.5B deal, says continuing multi-platform strategy is key

As it wrapped up its acquisition of Skype, Microsoft again assured users that it would continue to develop versions for platforms other than Windows.

Earlier today, Microsoft announced that it had closed the $8.5 billion deal for Skype, the Luxembourg-based Internet phone and chat giant. Microsoft and Skype unveiled the planned acquisition in May.

Skype will operate as a new business division within Microsoft, and Tony Bates, formerly the chief executive of Skype, will report directly to Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer.

In May, Ballmer promised that his company would continue to develop and support Skype on rival platforms.

"A, I said it and I meant it," Ballmer said when a reporter asked for assurances that Skype would continue to support operating systems and devices not sold by Microsoft. "B, we're one of the few companies with a track record of doing this," Ballmer added, citing Microsoft's Office edition for the Mac.

Skype offers versions of its software for Apple's Mac OS X and Linux on the desktop, and on Google's Android, Apple's iOS, RIM's BlackBerry and Nokia's Symbian mobile operating systems.

Today, Bates reaffirmed Ballmer's promise.

"I'm sure on a lot of people's minds post-merger is the simple question, will the Skype experience change? The answer is an emphatic no," said Bates in a video posted to Microsoft's website today. "The value proposition of Skype is being multi-platform across different devices, whether it's PCs, desktops, mobile phones, whether it's in the living room, and that's key and that must stay. And we're committed to that."

Antitrust regulators in the U.S. and the European Union have approved the deal.

EU officials cleared the acquisition even though Messagenet, an Italian rival to Skype, had asked regulators there to block the move unless Microsoft agreed not to bundle Skype with its Office products.

"This acquisition has the potential to lessen competition in the VoIP space and could lead to less consumer choice and/or higher prices," said Messagenet's CEO, Marco Fiorentino, in an email last week. "We remain watchful of the Microsoft and Skype integration in light of EU telecom regulations and antitrust law."

Also on Friday, Skype updated its Windows version to ditch the Google Toolbar offer it had long included.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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