There were rumors and murmurs floating in the ether yesterday about a possible deal between Microsoft and Skype. The news is now official and Microsoft has bought the voice call and chat service for US$8.5 billion, making it their most expensive acquisition ever. This deal is a strong indicator as to the future direction Microsoft will be taking.
cnn.com - Adding Skype's video conferencing capabilities to Office 365, the cloud computing version of the Office suite, would allow Microsoft to compete simultaneously with Google Docs and Cisco's teleconferencing solutions. Windows Phone can potentially bake Skype deep into the OS, not just as an app.
Having Skype as a native feature rather than a downloaded app may finally effectively implement and popularize voice over internet calling on smartphones, a feature that would probably give telecommunication service providers many a sleepless night. Possible tie-ins with the popular Xbox 360 Kinect to help provide chat functions for users accessing multiplayer also make it seem that buying Skype was a prudent piece of business for the tech giants.
More information on the matter can be found here.