May 10, 2011, 11:53 AM — Microsoft is buying Skype for $8.5 billion, and the Windows maker says it will integrate Skype with many existing Microsoft products and services. The company also plans to maintain Skype's stand-alone clients for non-Microsoft platforms such as Mac OS X and Linux.
Skype has been up for sale for some time, and several companies were rumored to be courting the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service including Cisco, Google and Facebook. Ebay purchased Skype in 2005 for $2.6 billion, but in 2009 sold its majority interest in Skype to a consortium of investors for $1.9 billion.
Many critics have doubted Skype's ability to turn a profit as a stand-alone business, but there's no denying it's an incredibly popular service. There are 170 million active Skype users worldwide, and in 2010 users made 207 billion minutes worth of video and voice calls on Skype.
Skype and Microsoft are planning to host a press announcement at 11 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday to discuss the acquisition. If you're interested in watching, you can view the Skype-Microsoft announcement online. Until then, here's a breakdown of what we know so far about the Skype deal and how it will impact fans of the VoIP service.
Are Skype's stand-alone apps dead?
No, at least not yet anyway. Microsoft says it will continue to invest and support Skype on non-Microsoft platforms. Skype currently offers apps for Mac OS X, Linux, Windows, Android, Blackberry, iOS and Symbian devices.
What is Microsoft doing with Skype?
Microsoft says it plans to add Skype support to the Xbox and Kinect, and Windows Phone devices. The company also says it will "connect Skype users" with Outlook, Xbox LIVE, and Lync (an enterprise unified communications client formerly known as Office Communications Server).