Just one year after Microsoft’s (News - Alert) $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype, technology pundits around the world continue to wonder what the company has done to justify the high price tag (News - Alert) paid for the VoIP giant. With the company’s questionable acquisition history of businesses in the consumer Internet space, this question is warranted. But, in the 16 months following the initial announcement, Microsoft and Skype (News - Alert) have shown a great deal in terms of development.
Since Microsoft’s purchase of Skype, Skype has seen its number of users jump to 250 million people (up 26 percent) in just seven months. Back in April, Skype celebrated 40 million concurrent users and traffic during the first quarter of 2012 was a 40 percent higher than last year.
Just last week, Microsoft's Skype unit unveiled that it is enabling sign-in using Windows Live ID, known as Microsoft Account in the latest Skype for Windows beta (version 5.11). In this release, Skype is enabling its users to reach more of their friends and family with added beta support for sharing Instant messages (IMs) with friends with messenger, improved Facebook (News - Alert) integration, and support for six new languages.
This means by signing in with a Windows Live ID, users will be able to send and receive IMs and see real-time information from those using Live Messenger, Xbox, Hotmail or Outlook.com. Additionally, Microsoft is enabling the same integration via a new Skype 5.11 for Mac beta.
According to Microsoft, there is also improved Facebook integration in the Skype 5.11 betas, which allows users to sign in directly using their Facebook account log-ins without the need to create a Skype account. Users who choose to sign into Skype using their Microsoft or Facebook accounts will have the option to link their Skype accounts, creating a combined list of friends.
The new Skype UI is now "refreshed and flattened" with a "simpler and less cluttered look" in the latest beta, according to Skype.
The Skype 5.11 for Windows beta is downloadable from the Skype beta site or for the Mac version, click here.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein