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Microsoft Buying Skype for $8.5B

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  • Alternatives? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:02AM (#36081566)

    So what's a good alternative to Skype that works cross-platform? I use Skype with Linux and Android connecting to Mac and Windows users. Is Jitsi a reasonable solution?

    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by binarylarry (1338699) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:04AM (#36081596)

      Google Voice is pretty nice, gmail has an integrated client.

    • by bflong (107195)

      Google Talk has a Voice & Video plugin for the three major platforms. It works right in the browser. You can even do video chat from an android tablet.

    • by piripiri (1476949)
      I'm waiting for GNU Free Call [gnu.org].
    • by Goffee71 (628501)
      You want Viber (http://t.co/wcE4frR) if you're after a mobile app which offers better voice quality, and is iPhone/Android with others coming soon.
    • by Jorl17 (1716772)
      Honestly, I run a private mumble server and have all my friends just connect to it. If I want to talk to just one, I talk to him alone in the server. I have verified that it doesn't spend as much as Skype and the quality is far superior. For chat we use google chat, or sometimes my own "Jorl Chat" /yeah, I had to name it after my poor nickname). But mumble works fine in Windows and Linux.
    • by jimicus (737525)

      You want the good or the bad news?

      The good news is that there's a protocol which provides the means for anyone to implement an alternative to skype, and lots of people already have. There's even hardware that supports it natively so you don't need to teach your grandma to use a software client. You buy the special phone, set it up for her and away she goes. It even supports video calls, it's called SIP.

      The bad news is that outside of businesses, few people are using it. You can't use it to call other Sk

  • The future (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrackedButter (646746) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:04AM (#36081592) Homepage Journal

    "wondering what it would mean for Linux users" - It means you're fucked! Sadly.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:16AM (#36081752)

      So negative. Don't you think Skype will continue providing a linux client program, just like they've always done?

      • Re:The future (Score:5, Insightful)

        by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:24AM (#36081882) Journal

        Aaaand this is why you never go proprietary. They can stop an application in it's entirety without anyone being able to pick it up and continue the work.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by dave420 (699308)
          Soooo you spend years not using some very good software because it's proprietary and might force you, at some point in the future, to not use it? Sounds like cutting your nose off to spite your face. What if they don't stop supporting the linux client? Then you've permanently removed yourself from being able to use Skype, and forced yourself to use some half-baked not-as-good alternative. Genius.
          • by jgrahn (181062)

            Soooo you spend years not using some very good software because it's proprietary and might force you, at some point in the future, to not use it? Sounds like cutting your nose off to spite your face. What if they don't stop supporting the linux client? Then you've permanently removed yourself from being able to use Skype, and forced yourself to use some half-baked not-as-good alternative. Genius.

            That is exactly what I do. I believe in open standards enough to invest time and effort into them. If others hadn't done that before us, we wouldn't have an Internet to discuss this over ... and Skype wouldn't be worth $8e9.

    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      First the Nokia assimilation, now this. A disastrous start to 2011 for geeks.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        Nah, it's just Microsoft struggling to find relevancy in a new world that it had never imagined and does not understand.

        The only unfortunate thing is they're going to bring a whole lot of other companies down along with them.

    • "wondering what it would mean for Linux users" - It means you're fucked! Sadly.

      No, it only means that those who traded convenience for freedom get fucked, even on (especially on) Linux.

      Fortunately, I only use free software with my GNU/Linux distribution, thus when proprietary software makes its round of fucking people, to me seems like air-humping -- I point and laugh.

      • Unfortunately, most GNU/Linux users are not interested in freedom, they just want a system that is not Windows. I see plenty of GNU/Linux users running Adobe Flash, Skype, Chrome, Matlab, and various other proprietary software. I have also seen plenty of GNU/Linux users switching to Mac OS X, and still thinking they are part of some elite "doesn't use Windows" club. There are also a lot of GNU/Linux users who say I am being unreasonable by refusing to install the Flash plugin, or who give me a weird look
    • Hang on now, of course it'll be multi-platform. It just means all future Skype clients will be built on .Net and require a "free" kernel module to facilitate DRM (Netflix streaming with moonlight will still not work for some inane reason). And they'll totally promise not to screw anybody, since apparently that's good enough for the OSS community..
  • And here I was thinking I had submitted a great story! Anyways, I use Linux primarily, and skype often with family members. I hope I don't have to re-setup everything as a result of discontinued compatibility. It's doubtful that they would continue to support versions of linux. I can see them supporting apple software as they do for Office, but I'd be willing to bet linux users will be hung out to dry.
  • by Richy_T (111409) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:05AM (#36081616) Homepage

    Does it uninstall cleanly?

  • Turning the Living Room into a video conference room is what will get the grandparents to buy an Xbox, similar to the way photo-sharing through e-mail got The Folks online to begin with.

    Come for the remote grandkid interaction, stay for the streaming music and video...

    • Can't you already do that with the Xbox? Video chat is definitely there on PS3 if you just plug in a USB webcam, though I haven't tried it on my Xbox (I assume that MS would charge you for a special Xbox webcam rather than just letting you use any peripherals you want)

      • by ifrag (984323)

        charge you for a special Xbox webcam

        It's called Kinect.

      • by Xest (935314)

        "Can't you already do that with the Xbox?"

        Yes using either Kinect or the older Live Vision Camera.

        "I assume that MS would charge you for a special Xbox webcam rather than just letting you use any peripherals you want"

        Well what are they supposed to do? Spend an absolute fortune providing device drivers for cameras they haven't made and don't make any profit from? Allow an option to install drivers which creates a massive potential for security vulnerabilities on their platform? Both devices are well understo

  • Not just linux users either. Mobile users except for those with Windows phones are probably fucked too, the android skype [skype.com] users almost certainly.
    • by mzs (595629)

      Came to say that too. Also PSP users may be first in line for trouble considering Sony and MS compete with PS3 and xbox360. Also you will likely see skype on kinect way before PS3 now.

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:10AM (#36081668) Journal

    Microsoft already has the technology necessary in their own audio/video/text Windows Live Messenger platform. So I don't think it's about that. And yes, I feel sorry for the Skype staff today -- I don't think this move bodes well for them at all. Their competence may not be what Microsoft is looking for here.

    And as for other reasons, the paying customer base (compared to the non-paying WLM user base) of Skype could perhaps be attractive to Microsoft. Keep in mind that Skype is running with losses despite all these users, though.

    In the end, taking all these thoughts together, I can only imagine that this is a risky move by Microsoft. I think they are hoping for awesome synergy effects from some forthcoming integration with their products. I assume something big, and no minor idea, since it needs to pay these $8.5 billion and more.

    My first idea was integrating this with Windows Phone 7 (8? 9?) to get phone calls at data rates, but I have no idea how they'll going to get the providers to accept that. That would be a feat as grand as Steve Jobs getting the music companies to sign on to iTunes back in the days, if not greater.

    Otherwise... Hmm, someone mentioned Xbox or Kinect integration to communicate with others with these devices... Well that's a thought but why shouldn't they be able to just implement that feature with their Live network? Write a WLM client for these - done. No $8.5 billion wasted.

    Not sure if there are other ideas about where MS may be going with this?

    • by Junta (36770) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:15AM (#36081746)

      Basically skype seems to have a *whole* lot of traction/brand recognition. MS wants to control that to prop up their struggling mobile phone play (read: screw over iOS/Android/etc users). Torpedoing Linux support will probably be just side-effect.

      My hope is that MS has the causative relationship reversed. Skype is ubiquitous because they endeavour to work on all devices. If Skype becomes an Xbox/Windows/Windows Phone play, I expect their subscriber base to evaporate.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Microsoft already has the technology necessary in their own audio/video/text Windows Live Messenger platform. So I don't think it's about that.

      Skype:WLM::YouTube:Google Video

  • by perrin (891) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:18AM (#36081796)

    According to the press release itself: "Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms." However, this is Microsoft, and we know how they operate. This is unlikely to be anything but a ploy to avoid objections from the authorities to the purchase. Once it is too late to stop it, I predict not a single update will go into the Linux and Android versions, and the Mac and iPhone versions will lag behind in features. So the question is what alternatives there are now.

    Another question is what Google, Facebook and Cisco will do now. If I were on the board of any of them, I'd certainly be pushing for pooling resources to create a joint venture to compete with Skype on all fronts. Could set up quite the consortium for the money they intended to spend buying Skype themselves.

    Interesting times.

  • I suspect this is a preemptive strike by MS to stop Facebook snagging Skype, for which it would be an excellent fit. Facebook and its tasty, tasty advertising
    • by Ed Bugg (2024)

      I suspect this is a preemptive strike by MS to stop Facebook snagging Skype, ...

      I view this as the real investment. It's not to get any synergy from Skype but to prevent what could happen to the Windows Live platform if FaceBook were to assimilate Skype. Once they have Skype, they are going to let it burn, in my opinion.

  • But, I just don't see it....

    What are they going to do, integrate it with Windows? Use it as a protocol as part of Office Communicator? Office Communicator uses SIP though (Funnily enough for MS an external standard), so unless they are going to gateway it.... At this point, it just makes more sense to buy a license to the protocol, and not the whole company. Flip the coin to the other side of the fence (To the customer side) and do you think they want to have their bandwidth used as part of the P2P network

    • Patent Portfolio.

      This looks like a move to BLOCK Facebook and/or Google expansion into this area. And when either of these companies move in anyhow, out come the lawsuits.
       

      • by kroyd (29866)
        That is unlikely, as the P2P technology that Skype is built on is licensed from Joltid (a company owned by the Skype founders - google Joltid and lawsuit).

        The only thing that Microsoft is buying (as far as I can see) are a lot of users, a license for some P2P software, and some video chat software which pretty much duplicates what Microsoft already has.

  • I characterized this as a choice between the "old evil" and the "new evil" (fully acknowledging my bias against both companies...) Would the /. community be more comfortable with Skype as a Facebook product?

  • This is good news if it means Facebook and Google not buying it. I'd much rather have Microsoft own them than risk my privacy with Facebook and Google.

    Maybe it won't be so bad. Hotmail isn't half bad since Microsoft bought them (was a Hotmailer before it was Microsoftized).

  • My hat is off to them

    First they sucker eBay into buying them for a lot of money. Then eBay eventually figures out that it was a mistake and sells it back for chump change.

    Now they've sold it M$ for even more money. The folks in Redmond will phase the management team out in a year or so (but they're happy and rich so they won't care.) Then they'll let the product drift for a bit and eventually it will be assimilated into their portfolio of OK-to-mediocre products and become part of the load of crap softw
  • Has Microsoft's reputation with the public sunk to such a low point where they are now forced to acquire other Internet companies in a desperate attempt to expand Microsoft's internet/Live customer base by proxy?
    • Hey, don't forget that many, if not most of Microsoft's most successful products started out as acquisitions. That includes Office and IE. So buying a product and Microsoftizing it is nothing new for Redmond.

  • by david.emery (127135) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:32AM (#36081994)

    With the Microsoft/Ford collaboration, what if Microsoft built Skype into the next version of their car software?

    Could Microsoft be looking for a 'great convergence' of voice between cell phones, computers, cars, TVs/consoles (Xbox), etc? They have the smarts, but do they have the business vision to pull this off? And if they do, how open/closed would the resulting system be?

  • SIP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey (83763) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @09:52AM (#36082284) Journal

    Wikipedia says:
    The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is an IETF-defined signaling protocol, widely used for controlling multimedia communication sessions such as voice and video calls over Internet Protocol (IP). The protocol can be used for creating, modifying and terminating two-party (unicast) or multiparty (multicast) sessions consisting of one or several media streams. The modification can involve changing addresses or ports, inviting more participants, and adding or deleting media streams. Other feasible application examples include video conferencing, streaming multimedia distribution, instant messaging, presence information, file transfer and online games.

    *That's* the alternative.

    • by isorox (205688)

      Wikipedia says:
      The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is an IETF-defined signaling protocol, widely used for controlling multimedia communication sessions such as voice and video calls over Internet Protocol (IP). The protocol can be used for creating, modifying and terminating two-party (unicast) or multiparty (multicast) sessions consisting of one or several media streams. The modification can involve changing addresses or ports, inviting more participants, and adding or deleting media streams. Other feasible application examples include video conferencing, streaming multimedia distribution, instant messaging, presence information, file transfer and online games.

      *That's* the alternative.

      People are on skype. Skype doesn't interoperate with SIP, therefore skype has no alternative. If you want to talk to someone on skype, you need skype. Setting up skype for your average home and mobile phone is a matter of visiting skype.com, or your app store, and running the one file. Within 10 minutes grandma is talking to her grandkids in Australia (and other kitschy scenarios)

      Setting up sip on your average home and mobile phone?

  • microsoft hopes that integrating a popular voip plugin with office will add more users to the group that say things like, "we need to have an exchange server?".

  • by kirkb (158552) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @12:50PM (#36084852) Homepage

    Here's my wild-ass conspiracy theory. I'm gonna link back to this post if/when it's proven true.

    Skype discovered that Apple's Facetime violates their patent(s), and MS bought Skype so that they can sue Appple and cripple the iPhone. This improves Windows Phone's position in the marketplace (which, BTW, finally gets a skype client thanks to this deal).

  • by Millennium (2451) on Tuesday May 10, 2011 @01:20PM (#36085200) Homepage

    Skype just locked in its place as the next Internet Explorer: Microsoft's attempt at locking-in users. Time to find a real standard for this sort of thing.

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