Redmond, Wash. – Microsoft (NASD: MSFT) announced on Tuesday that it
has acquired Internet telephone service Skype for $8.5 billion, from the
investor group led by Silver Lake that purchased the company from eBay in 2009.
Founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis — who previously created
file-sharing service Kazaa and streaming platform Joost — Skype now counts 170
million users worldwide, who racked up over 207 billion minutes of voice and
video conversations in 2010.

Skype will support Microsoft’s Xbox and Kinect
game systems, Windows Phone and other devices, and the company’s Outlook, Lync
and other communities.

Microsoft has also pledged to continue to invest in and support
Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.

"Skype is a phenomenal service
that is loved by millions of people around the world," said Microsoft CEO
Steve Ballmer. "Together we will create the future of real-time
communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients
and colleagues anywhere in the world."

"I believe this acquisition is
the very best way to extend Skype’s reach and will allow us to bring real-time
video and voice communications to more people around the world than ever
before," Skype CEO Tony Bates wrote on the company’s blog.

combination of Skype and Microsoft will directly benefit all of you who use
Skype by ushering in a new era of generative ways for everyone to communicate."



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