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Microsoft's Skype deal official, let the games begin

Microsoft, with Xbox LIVE and now Skype on its side, hopes to run a more interesting game against Android. Both are trying to deeply embed themselves in users' lives.

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Microsoft today closed its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype, officially introducing it as a new business division within Microsoft that former Skype CEO Tony Bates will act as president of (CP: Microsoft buys Skype for $8.5 billion).

Skype will continue offering its products, and in time Skype technology will be integrated across a number of Microsoft products. The combined efforts of the companies, Bates added in a statement, will "accelerate Skype's goal to reach 1 billion users daily."

Microsoft recently launched its Windows Phone OS update, code-named Mango, and the next big event expected to attract consumers — ideally away from Android-running smartphones, BlackBerry devices and, hoping against hope, iPhones — will be the introduction of Nokia phones running Windows Phone later this year. In the highly competitive mobile space, Xbox LIVE and Skype, with its 170 million worldwide users, are two major features that Microsoft is counting on to differentiate its handsets.

Bates, in a video on the Skype blog, assured current Skype fans the sale won't change the Skype they know and love, which is nothing short of a fulfillment of the once "futuristic dream" of video calling.

"Will the Skype experience change? The answer is an emphatic no," says Bates. "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 must stay and we're committed to that."

Crystal ball time? The world he sees in a few years, Bates adds, is "one of complete pervasive video communications, something that's across all parts of your life — not just as an appointment but something that you use each and every day and becomes seamless."

Which is just the type of thing that Google CEO Larry Page is fond of saying he wants to create — products that become intrinsic to people's lives. Page repeated this during the company's third-quarter earnings call Thursday.

"To create products that really change people's lives, that they use every day, two times or three times a day, is really hard," Page said, explaining why a number of products had been cancelled during the quarter. "We have to make tough decisions about what to focus on or we end up doing things that don't have the impact that we strive for."

If Skype can truly help Microsoft stand up to Android, today will mark the beginning of much more interesting times.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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