How will this affect YOU?
Now, I'll leave it to others to speculate as to what this deal will mean for Microsoft and Skype, and what will come of it over the coming months and years. However, I am interested in what this deal might mean to users of Skype in the short term.
First off, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has confirmed that Skype will remain committed to providing the service to non-Microsoft platforms, which is a good thing. So there's no worry that Skype will suddenly go dead on your particular non-Microsoft device.
OK, so my first question is this ... does Microsoft having bought Skype make you more or less likely to use the service?
Back in March of this year (mere weeks before Microsoft finalized the purchase price for Skype), the company announced that it was bringing ads to the Skype client. Some people were upset by this change (people don't like change), others accepted it. I think that the timing is interesting though, especially given how ad-ladened Microsoft offerings such as Windows Live Messenger have become.
Flash-forward to today, and during the press conference Ballmer mentioned that Skype is great for connecting all sorts of people, for example, school meetings, PTA meetings, family reunions, that sort of thing.
Hmmm ... one of my long-time complaints about Windows Live Messenger has been the seizure-inducing ads that it insists on displaying (there are ways to make them go away, but each product update means having to repeat the process). I try to avoid using Windows Live Messenger for this reason (I'm also no fan of the crap like nudges and winks built into it either, but that's another matter). With that in mind, I fired up Windows Live messenger to check out what quality ads it had in store for me today. Here are the first two ads I got:
Yeah, perfect for school meetings, PTA meetings and family reunions. Just perfect.
I'll admit that I'm not a big Skype fan (or VoIP, FaceTime or video calling in general for that matter). I find the call quality variable and when you throw video into the mix things get really messy. Most of my Skype calls begin and end (usually ending abruptly) with copious amounts of profanity. When it works, it's magic, but when it doesn't, it's painful. I get the appeal of making free calls to others, and I get the appeal of cheap calls, but it's far from perfect.
But still, some 170 million people use Skype every month, and there are some 600,000 new registrations daily. So there's interest. But here's my question ... if people can already sign up and start using Skype for free, what does Microsoft think it can bring to the table to encourage more people to use the service, especially if that involves people buying new hardware and software?
So, what do you think? Where's Skype headed?