Three months after announcing its acquisition of Skype, Microsoft's plans for the Internet telephony service are beginning to become clear.
One of the first orders of business will be the creation of a Windows Mobile version of Skype, Neil Stevens, the company's vice president and general manager of products and marketing, told Forbes recently.
Since Skype will soon - pending European approval of the acquisition - be a Microsoft product, the Windows Phone application that's built will be more deeply integrated with the OS than it is on Android or iOS. That's because, unlike on those platforms, building for the Windows Phone operating system will enable Skype developers to access things like the user's contacts and the phone's video processor. Apple in particular is notoriously strict about what third party apps built for its platform can and cannot do.
The result of this development flexibility will be a version of Skype that feels more native to the device than a third party app typically does. Think FaceTime, but for Windows Phone instead of iOS, perhaps with elements of Apple's upcoming iMessage mixed in.
When Microsoft bought Skype in May, mobile integration was one way in which our own Richard MacManus predicted we'd see this acquisition come to life. Another is in the living room, where Internet-connected TVs, gaming consoles and set-top boxes are proliferating. Microsoft already offers Video Kinect, which lets users video chat with other XBox Live and Windows Messenger contacts. Skype has indicated that their service will be integrated into Xbox and Kinect. At a minimum, we should expect Skype contacts to show up on Video Kinect, if not integration of some of Skype's underlying technology.
Other places Microsoft plans to integrate Skype include Outlook, Lync and "a wide array of Windows devices."