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FTC Approves Microsoft's Takeover of Skype 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-all-yours dept.
BigCorona writes "The US Federal Trade Commission said that it has approved Microsoft's $8.5 billion cash takeover of voice and video-over-IP provider Skype. Microsoft officially announced its intent to acquire Skype back on May 10 and since then users have been taking to Twitter to blame Microsoft for Skype's intermittent service. Now, with Reuters reporting that there has been antitrust approval of the deal, users will be able to turn to Microsoft when asking questions of Skype's sometimes-spotty service."
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FTC Approves Microsoft's Takeover of Skype

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  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @09:39AM (#36490686)

    instead of not getting an answer from Skype we're now going to get no answer from MS?

    • by PetoskeyGuy (648788) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @10:13AM (#36490844)

      Perhaps one change will be that PostgreSQL will no longer be moving forward so fast in the realm of free and open source high availability databases. Skype uses PostgreSQL for it's backend and has created SkyTools for managing replication and failover for a large numbers of servers. It's the biggest user I'm aware of, but I don't follow sql development that closely.

      Maybe like hotmail running linux they will try to port it over to Azure or something. They could learn a lot.

      More likely this gives the automatic ties to a global communication network that already has ties to the telecommunication systems. Windows Phones use skype instead of sms. Audio and video calls and conferencing at the cost of bandwidth. Huge installed user base on desktop, PC, iPhone and Android.

      Like a game of go they just did a really neat move that opens up a lot of new possibilities for the future.

      • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @10:33AM (#36490928) Journal

        Maybe like hotmail running linux they will try to port it over to Azure or something.

        Hotmail was running on FreeBSD. And when Microsoft took over Hotmail, they had a ton of problems when they tried to move it over to MS-only infrastructure. And then the clean Hotmail UI was replaced by the butt-ugly, commercials-encumbered abomination that Hotmail was up until a few years ago.

          It's still an abomination compared to the original Hotmail, by the way. I stopped using it shortly after the MS takeover, and had no reason to look back. I shudder to think what will happen to Skype.

        • These days you don't have to use the interface at all. Works perfectly with both outlook (which I like quite a bit) and even the baked in email program for android. I see the Hotmail UI maybe once a year.
          I'm not saying the Hotmail UI isn't horrible, just that there's no need to use it now days.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          That will be more complicated. Hotmail was fungible it was completely interoperable with other providers so the main pain was getting people to use the new address.

          Skype is a little more complicated because you can't just drop in any replacement you want, and really if you're wanting a replacement, you probably want more than to just replace the client with something else, there are some downsides to the protocol as well.

        • by ShakaUVM (157947)

          >>Hotmail was running on FreeBSD. And when Microsoft took over Hotmail, they had a ton of problems when they tried to move it over to MS-only infrastructure.

          And moved it back. I had a friend working at Hotmail from 2004-2009 or so. He was hired as a UNIX programmer, to work on their backend stuff.

          You can use adblockers to remove the ads from Hotmail. It's not bad - they have copied a lot of features from gmail by now. =)

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I wonder what effect Microsoft will have on Skype. I mean, will Microsoft try to intervene or leave them be and just partake of the profits? Or maybe some side-ventures without affecting the protocal.

          Because what I'm worried about is those of us who have Skype phones, like the CIT400, might end up with a brick down the line.

      • The CEO of Microsoft apparently has little technical knowledge and no interest in learning. Do you see any evidence that someone like that can run a technology company successfully?

        Will Skype become the Zune of VOIP? Will Skype begin having serious problems like Hotmail? [theinternetpatrol.com]

        Will Windows 8, due next year, be another grab for money, like Windows Vista and Windows ME?
      • by OverlordQ (264228)

        Perhaps one change will be that PostgreSQL will no longer be moving forward so fast in the realm of free and open source high availability databases.

        Let's see a small selection of other people using Pg.

        US State Department
        whitepages.com
        IMDB
        Fujitsu
        Sun
        Apple
        RedHat
        Junipet
        Cisco
        NTT Data

        I'm pretty sure most of these companies produce a lot more contributions to Pg then Skype ever did. Not to mention there's quite a few failover/replication suites for Pg

    • We dropped Skype due to the uncertain immediate future. We moved to SIP instead. There are several providers (not all eggs in one basket) with free SIP addresses and SIP to SIP calling. Many competing providers provide connection to PTSN at various rates and plans. Again, this is not a monopoly by anybody. Only the providers closly bundled with a cable company are enjoying monopoly rates. Almost anybody else has lower rates and more features.

      Vontage gives you just a phone at home. Other SIP providers

  • "Preemptive" (Score:3, Informative)

    by tgd (2822) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @09:41AM (#36490694)

    *facepalm*

    Premature. English isn't that hard, kids.

  • Skype's lifespan? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nynaeve70 (2232514) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @09:41AM (#36490700)
    I wouldn't be surprised if people aren't forced to use Windows Live to access Skype and go through the msn messenger. I fully expect Skype to be dead very, very shortly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      And be only availabe with the Windows Ultimate edition thus forcing users into an expensive upgrade.
      They have to get that whole shed load of money back somehow don't they?

      • by jawtheshark (198669) * <(moc.krahsehtwaj) (ta) (todhsals)> on Sunday June 19, 2011 @10:05AM (#36490804) Homepage Journal

        Microsoft may be greedy and all, but that's very unlikely. Skype has been a consumer-oriented technology trying to upsell to companies (a bit like the anti virus companies of the day yonder). Expect this to be available to all Windows versions, except perhaps "Starter". However, expect it only to be available for Windows 7. Linux support will be lackluster (it wasn't already stellar in the first place) and be abandoned because of "lack of interest". The OS X version will be maintained but will always be feature wise behind and Apple will simply start a competing technology.

        What I could see, is that it gets bundled with Microsoft Office or so... Under the guise of "collaboration" tool.

        • by Cwix (1671282)

          Spot on IMHO.

        • Apple doesn't need to start a competing technology, they already have their own proprietary tech - FaceTime.

          • There you go... My wife is the Apple user in the household, I'm not all that up to date about their technologies. They only need to make it cross-platform, so Apple users can communicate with the lesser lifeforms on this planet and they have a Skype killer.

          • Re:Skype's lifespan? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Rennt (582550) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @11:48AM (#36491254)
            Which is pretty much worthless. If you are not multi-platform in this space nobody wants to know about it. The question is - does MS understand this, or is it going to run Skype into the ground trying to make it Windows exclusive.
            • My guess is that MS will push into the SIP provider space with Exchange/AD integration similar to corporate messenger while continuing free/paid options for consumers.. I do see a drop of the Linux support and integration with Live Messenger.
            • by tsa (15680)

              I guess they will make it Windows exclusive and kill Skype in the process.

          • SIP is already a competing technology. Most SIP to SIP phone calls are free just like Skype to Skype. SIP to PTSN has fees just like Skype in and Skype out.

            This page has a full range of SIP clients for the Mac.
            http://www.pure-mac.com/voip.html [pure-mac.com]

        • You're probably more or less right. If Microsoft makes Skype a Windows-only program, they will not only alienate Linux and Mac users, but also Android and iPhone users. This would really make the acquisition pretty much pointless, since there's not much point in cutting off revenue streams.

          What MS almost certainly will do, however, is fail to pass on any value they might (hypothetically) succeed in adding to the product to non-Windows users. This is fairly unlikely to make any difference to me, since I on
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Most analysts suggest this was mostly a tax dodge to repatriate foreign profits into non-taxable assets that can later be counted as an expense against future earnings. US companies leave large piles of cash overseas to avoid taxes, which makes dividend seeking stock holders angry.

          • by SvnLyrBrto (62138)

            Microsoft is quite happy to cut off a revenue stream if they think they can harm an alternative platform.

            See, for example, their purchase of Virtual PC from Connectix. Pretty much every purchase of Virtual PC also meant the purchase of a Windows license. Nevertheless, they bought it and killed it just to deprive Mac users of the ability to use the occasional Windows App. Also, there's Halo. Before microsoft bought Bungiee, Halo was going to be simultaneously released for all platforms, including the Mac

        • by Kalriath (849904)

          Personally, I actually don't think that at all. If anything, they'll integrate Exchange/OCS/Lync/whatever they're calling it these days, allow you to federate your unified communications servers using Skype, then try and use that to bludgeon people into forking out money to Microsoft for their inter-system phone links rather than to the telco or to some SIP trunk provider, etc. Then integrate it into Windows Phone, and they've pretty much got a captive market using Microsoft Skype on iPhone, Android, Wind

      • I would say Skype is going to get some TLC on Linux side. Skype is free but the main revenue is using Skype as commercial service. This commercial service is a perfect vehicle for M$ to gain a revenue stream from Linux (box or droid users) that they normal would never see a dime from. Add Skype in new 7/8 installs, and that is a powerful method of dominating the VOIP market. I can easily see massive growth spike coming to Skype in the next two years.

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Just wait. I doubt MS will do such a retarded thing. The most likely plan is integrating it across all their platforms, including Windows, phones, consoles, and so forth. Leaping to ridiculous conclusions that requires them to spunk $8.5bn up the wall just to piss off non-Windows users and shrink their user-base massively is, in the words of BigCorona, ridiculously "preemptive".
      • I do imagine they'll drop linux support entirely, but beyond that... they couldn't risk the damage to their new business from dropping support for anything more popular. I would guess that, as you suggest, they may want to intigrate it into the xbox. Why not? Xbox + kinect would make a good videophone, and could use the xbox's existing contacts management.
      • Depends on why they bought Skype. If they bought it just for technology, then there is less incentive to piss off current customers. I do expect nonWindows versions to suffer support problems and less frequent updates. Linux versions may be stopped altogether.
        • by tsotha (720379)
          What technology does Skype have that Microsoft doesn't already have or can't develop for a tiny fraction of the Skype acquisition?
          • The same question could be asked of music player technology [ew.com], mobile software [businessinsider.com], and tablet software [touchreviews.net]. MS has had less than stellar success with their internal projects; buying something external that works may have been easier. The ultimate motives of MS are only known to themselves. Remember this is the same MS that tried to buy Yahoo. What was the ultimate purpose of that acquisition?
            • by tsotha (720379)

              The same question could be asked of music player technology, mobile software, and tablet software. MS has had less than stellar success with their internal projects; buying something external that works may have been easier.

              Buying external products is easier because you buy the customers along with the product. Most people tend to pick a tool and then continue to use it as long as it meets their needs. That's true even as better products enter the marketplace. Overcoming that inertia is difficult, and u

          • It's not technology: it's a well-known brand and a huge user base.
      • Given that (according to Wikipedia) Microsoft has paid out 32 times Skype's operating profits for the acquisition, I would be inclined to guess (or rather hope) that they might have something more in mind than shutting the door on competitors. Ballmer might act the buffoon from time to time, but if he made any serious attempt to operate against shareholders' interests for purely capricious reasons, I suspect he might be in swift contact with the business end of a boot.
    • I guess I will have to look for an alternative. It's sad, but MS taking over skype is unacceptable. I never accepted LiveID and all that crap as it isn't how I want to use computers. They are supposed to be a tool for specific tasks you want to do, not your entire life and the person you are. Why does everyone seem to want to tie everything together and identify you uniquely for even the simplest search-task, and why should there be links between a PM account and a friggin blog? I mean, 1 password is eas
  • There goes the Linux version of Skype (not that it was good, but you can expect it to lag further behind than the other platform versions or cease to exist altogether).
    • by Teun (17872)
      It is a native install on my N900 and it just works.

      Lets hope someone at MS does not purposely introduce an incompatibility in the other versions.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Skype -- seems destined, now, to head the way that everything else MSFT has headed. I don't actually know where that is, because so many pieces of tech have fallen into a void.

    What are the alternatives? Yes, I'll pay, and no, it doesn't need to be open-source, but it does need to provide voice and video, and compatibility across multiple platforms, as well as chat (all of the things that Skype is so great for).

    And, MSFT, in case you're reading this, no, I won't sign up if it requires me to have a Me account

  • Alternatives? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peterhil (472239) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @10:09AM (#36490824) Homepage
    Ok, what alternatives does Skype have that work on Mac, Linux, FreeBSD and Windows? Preferably Open Source.
    • It's no accident that your question hasn't gotten any replies. I don't understand why there isn't such a program. Most people would be happy with a cross-platform program that allows for computer-to-computer video conferencing. That's pretty easy:

      -record audio
      -record video
      -transit/receive
      -playback audio
      -display video

      Use a Skype-like distributed phonebook, so you don't have to have any centralized servers (or very, very few). Later, add a plugin system that is flexible enough to allow third-party companies t

      • That's pretty easy:

        If it really were that easy, it would exist. Superficially, you have indeed described what is necessary to do the deed and you claim that the rest is just implementation details. Well it's those "details" that make it hard. Think echo cancellation, and stuff like that. We have SIP, which can technically of the audio part. I don't know all that much about SIP except being able to configure hard-phones and asterisk servers, but I guess one could provide video as a SIP extension.

        • by Alex Belits (437) *

          Video is supported in SIP. The problem with SIP is, it works poorly with firewalls, this is why IAX2 exists (that also supports video and is more likely to be usable without giant central servers).

          • Finally a reason to get IPv6 to everyone ;-)

          • Central servers are a good reason NOT to use IAX. It has this design problem - signaling and data are associated over a single pair of UDP sockets. SIP, Jingle, even H.323 all use RTP for media so the data is decoupled from signaling. This allows P2P transfer of high volume audio and video data. Various techniques exist to pass through a firewall and alternative transports can be used if needed, especially in Jingle which is more flexible. Now, if everybody would agree on a reasonable minimum set of trans
            • by Alex Belits (437) *

              Central servers are a good reason NOT to use IAX. It has this design problem - signaling and data are associated over a single pair of UDP sockets. SIP, Jingle, even H.323 all use RTP for media so the data is decoupled from signaling. This allows P2P transfer of high volume audio and video data. Various techniques exist to pass through a firewall and alternative transports can be used if needed, especially in Jingle which is more flexible.

              Are you an idiot? This is why those protocols were unable to replace Skype! "Various techniques" (giant broken hacks not intentionally supported by a single router in existence) failed for most users, so they had to use central server to relay all data, and that wasn't scalable for free services. With P2P this separation is absolutely useless because difference in latency between alternative paths will cause the receiver to always wait for the slowest link, and VoIP lives and dies by latency.

              Even if you wan

        • sip is a signalling protocol, it does not care about the data stream so you could stream text file with SIP and it still be SIP.

    • by westlake (615356)

      Ok, what alternatives does Skype have that work on Mac, Linux, FreeBSD and Windows? Preferably Open Source.

      Nowhere are networking effects more important than in a telephone system.

      There are about 700 million Skpe accounts.

      The user can call out to almost land line bound or mobile phone on the planet - and the client is available for damn near every device which has a microphone, a camera, and a connection to the Internet.

    • Anything that does SIP.

      Seriously, SIP predates Skype and does voice/video just fine on all platforms, including Android.

      Google "SIP for [platform]" for fun.

    • This very question has been a front page topic at least twice. Look it up.
  • Why use the word "takeover" when purchase more accurately describes what happened?
    • by Khyber (864651)

      You must not know much about Microsoft's history. Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

      • Skype uses proprietary technology. There is nothing to embrace, extend, or extinguish unless you're implying Microsoft bought Skype simply to shut it down.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          No, they bought Skype to add it's features to Windows Live, Xbox and their WP7 products.
          WP7 cant catch Android & iOS by creating a better product so they're trying to force their way in using money.
          They'll spend a few billion promoting it as the next big thing in communications. They'll end up ripping out the
          guts and replacing it with a new improved NSA/DHS friendly encryption. It wont be extinguished but it will cease
          to exist as a decent usable product.

          Picture the adverts.. Dad in business meeting uses

  • "users shall soon be able to turn to Microsoft when asking questions of Skype's sometimes-spotty service.""

    Because if there is one company that knows all about crappy service, it's Microsoft.

    So long, Skype. You were good while you lasted.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Have you ever used MS customer service? It's easily one of the best. Short wait times, people who speak English, and they've always solved my problems quickly. I know it's hip to hate MS, but your attitude is dated.

      • I was going to mention there is a cost (usually) to calling MS, but at least you can. Try filing a bug report with Google sometime and/or getting a real person.
  • ...users shall soon be able to turn to Microsoft when asking questions of Skype's sometimes-spotty service.

    Fat lot of use that will be...particularly if you're not using Windows.

    The problem is that the only alternative (SIP) sucks little black toads: abysmal audio quality, ludicrous registration procedures, non-existent global directory services, and far too many competing clients.

    Don't get me wrong: I'm all in favour of open standards and open source and open competition, but with no-one at the helm, and

    • You're probably using SIP at work daily without you even knowing it. All our office phones are Cisco 79nn phones with the SIP firmware. How do I know? I friggin set them up in conjunction with an asterisk sever. Sound quality is excellent.

      The software phones are horrible. I agree, I've tried some and none really convinced me.

      A big company like Google needs to get behind it, integrate it with is services and make a client that will become the defacto most popular software phone. I might see them do th

    • by daemonc (145175)

      (SIP) sucks little black toads: abysmal audio quality, ludicrous registration procedures, non-existent global directory services, and far too many competing clients.

      All of these things are true except for the audio quality*. SIP does not specify any particular audio codec. There are high quality codecs available, it's up to the clients to support them. So, I don't see how having many competing clients is a bad thing.

      * And possibly the toads. I have not had any toad related issues on my PBX yet.

  • If and when Google adds webcam (phonecam) to Google Voice as more and more smart phones have front facing cameras, Skype could be rendered irrelevant.
    • You mean like Google Talk? I use that, as it's the only solution that I've found that works on Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    • Google Talk on Android has got video chat recently, and it had it for the web version for quite some time now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When is the last time the FTC has denied a merger (to someone other than Google)?

  • Umm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tasha26 (1613349) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @11:49AM (#36491262) Homepage
    so what's a good skype alternative then?
    • SIP is up and working for me. I have a Softphone running on Ubuntu on a netbook for travel anyplace and a hardware ATA with 2 lines at home. One is SIP only with no provider for PTSN. This is used for free SIP to SIP calls worldwide much like Skype to Skype. The other line is provisioned for inbound and outbound calls. Unlimited calls to more than 30 countries is part of the package for under $25/month. This includes call to England, UK, USA, Guam, Canada, China, Australia, Switzerland, Thailand, and

  • by retroworks (652802) on Sunday June 19, 2011 @11:57AM (#36491308) Homepage Journal
    Some of the commenters seem to be forgetting that Skype has not been an independent free service company since 2005, when it was purchased and left to flounder by ebay.com It's a European company, based in Luxemburg and Estonia, and the EU will probably keep Microsoft from messing it up, though I don't think it's clear that MS would be prone to do that.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does this fall under the DOJ's antitrust oversight? If so, will Microsoft have to publish the Skype protocols [microsoft.com] as they have for their other products?

  • Somehow I think the first move that Microsoft will make upon assuming control is to kill off Linux Skype. As usual, mergers end up screwing everyone, employees, users, and vendors alike, except upper management.

  • This headline reminds me of the Skype outages a couple of months ago and how people were blaming them on Microsoft...

  • The interesting trend reversal for Microsoft becomes more and more obvious with every activity. It used to be that share prices shot up when Microsoft indicated an interest in a company, now it is exactly the reverse.

    Nokia shares seemed to have suffered after the decision to load their new phones with Microsoft software, a deal generally seen as one between two losers. There was really no upshot for Nokia there, and investors didn't seem to think so either (remarkable).

    The moment Microsoft announced its i

  • Now that the deal has been approved, M$ will be charging for using skype, just watch as the free part of skype gets taken out.

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