Microsoft and Skype: Very Close to a Done Deal

The acquisition of Skype by Microsoft, which was the news of early May, is just about consummated.

The U.S. Department of Justice has signed off on the deal. That, writes Windows IT Pro’s Paul Thurrott, means that only the outside chance that European Union regulators object will be a barrier to the purchase closing. Thurrott takes a good look at the deal from a number of angles and concludes that his initial feeling that the price tag was high perhaps isn’t true.

The acquisition is another in a long line of signals that it isn’t business as usual in any corner of communications. One element that is a constant state of change is the overlap between unified communications and social networking. Google, for instance, is beginning to build its WebRTC voice and video feature. That, according to CNET, is not insignificant:

If Google and allies succeed in establishing the technology and building support into multiple browsers, that would mean anybody building a Web site or Web application could draw upon the communications technology. In other words, anyone could build a rival to services, such as Skype, with just a Web application.

The Skype/Microsoft marriage certainly will write new chapters in the diffusion of consumer technology into the workplace. This week, even as the lawyers were dotting I’s and crossing T’s, Skype and Facebook grew closer. Skype 5.5 Beta for Windows, according to eWeek, will traffic IM messages to Facebook friends from Skype. Soon, of course, at least some working folks using Microsoft products will have access to this feature.

On a far different front, Skype is readying for the corporate move by watching eight executives leave. The Inquirer names them and comments that all the departed were relatively high up in the organization.

The bottom line is that the closing of the deal announced in May clearly will accelerate an already pronounced trend: The line between work and play — between social media and unified communications — has largely evaporated.

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