Microsoft buys Skype for $8.5 billion.  That's a lot of zeros.

In its largest acquisition ever and the tech world's most massive deal in years, Microsoft Corp. is buying Internet communications company Skype Global for a stunning $8.5 billion.  Previously, Microsoft's biggest buy was $6 billion for online advertising firm aQuantive in 2007.

Skype's software allows users to talk for free online using messaging, voice and video and can also connect them to a land line or mobile phone for a fee. Users will now be able to connect to Microsoft offerings such as Lync, Outlook and Xbox Live, while Skype will support devices such as Xbox and Kinect, the companies said. 

Skype was founded in 2003 and now has 170 million connected users who chatted for 207 billion minutes last year.  The combination, he said, will give Skype and Microsoft the competitive heft to combat Google and the Facetime video chat function from the Apple iPhone.

What are your thoughts about the Skype acquisition by Microsoft?  With most computing and communications platforms heading to the internet cloud Microsoft just made some large shifts in that direction.

Source: LA Times and Associated Press on YouTube