It has been confirmed today that Microsoft is buying Skype, an internet telephony service for $8.5bn (£5bn) cash deal.
“Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” said Ballmer. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.
Founded in 2003 by two Scandinavian software entrepreneurs, Skype is now used by more than 170 million people worldwide, and Microsoft would bring it 660 million users worldwide while giving it a foothold in voice and video communications. Analysts suggested the service could be integrated into existing Microsoft products such as its Xbox 360 games console and Kinect gaming systems, or even into its flagship Office product to let users collaborate more effectively.
The acquisition is subject to US regulatory approval, which the companies hope to secure later this year.