Microsoft still is not officially the owner of Skype, given the acquisition has yet to receive European antitrust approval. But that isn't stopping Skype from rolling out new products and updates in the interim.
The latest new bits on the Windows front -- introduced quietly on September 13 -- is an update to Skype 5.5 for Windows that adds support for Windows 8. Microsoft rolled out a first "Developer Preview" test build of Windows 8 the week of September 12 and provided paid attendees of its Build conference with Samsung i5-based Windows 8 tablets.
Microsoft officials said relatively little about Skype during last week's Build conference, which was for developers interested in writing apps and building hardware for Windows 8. However, Istartedsomething.com noted that Microsoft may be counting on making Skype integration a key piece of Windows 8, citing a screen shot showing a Metro tile featuring missed phone calls.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer mentioned how Microsoft sees Skype complementing its Lync unified messaging software and service during the Microsoft Financial Analyst Meeting on September 14. Ballmer told Wall Street analysts there:
"Lync's a fantastic product for communicating with folks who are inside your enterprise, in your directory, inside your security boundary. You can set Lync up nicely so that it also connects with the PS(T)N phone system, and you can make outbound calls and the like.
"But certainly as we got into the scenarios, one of the scenarios that is most interesting to think about completing is actually being able to go consumer-to-consumer, consumer-to-business, business-to-business, and give the enterprise appropriate kind of control and security and auditing, at the same time letting people open up to all of their friends, their families, their professional contacts, their suppliers, their vendors, et cetera.
"So, in some senses you could say there were a lot of drivers behind the Skype acquisition, but certainly real-time conferencing, voice and video is not a new area to us, but the opportunity to have a really broader market impact to drive the future in these scenarios much harder."
As Ballmer noted, Lync provides many of the same capabilities as Skype, including messaging, Web-based audio and video conferencing and VOIP. Microsoft officials have said they plan to integrate Skype into a variety of Microsoft products, from Lync, to Xbox Live, to Windows Phone, if and when the $8.5 billion Microsoft Skype acquisition is approved.