05/10/2011 12:29 pm ET | Updated Jul 10, 2011

Microsoft's Plans For Skype: Boosting Windows Phone, Messaging, and Facebook

So now that Microsoft's $8.5 billion (in cold hard cash) purchase of Skype is official, what exactly does it mean for Skype's 170 million active users and Microsoft at large? Even if Microsoft overpaid -- this is the company's biggest purchase ever -- many are noting that the purchase may be a solid strategic movie to keep Skype away from competitors like Google and Cisco.

Heavy Microsoft Integration
Skype's blog post this morning suggests that Microsoft will be taking full advantage of the purchase. Expect to see Skype support for the full range of Microsoft products, ranging from Xbox, Xbox Live and Kinect to Windows Phone, Lync and Outlook. As Skype CEO Tony Bates said earlier, Microsoft gives Skype the ability to "reach everybody."

Continued Support For Current Apps
Using Skype on your Mac, Android device or webcam? Hopefully you'll be able to continue without any worry or service interruptions, as Microsoft's new Microsoft Skype Division will continue supporting non-Microsoft clients.

New Growth
While Skype has partnered with TV and webcam manufacturers to grow its service beyond desktop and mobile apps, Microsoft's hardware, software and industry connections offer the potential for growth on mobile, desktop, gaming systems and more. The auto space wouldn't be a surprise either; Microsoft has been pushing its Ford SYNC media system for years.

Coming To Facebook?
TechCrunch and GigaOm argue that it's a big win for Facebook. With Microsoft already an investor, Facebook may be able to use Skype's technology to improve Facebook Chat without the prohibitive costs of building the peer-to-peer infrastructure. Plus, Om Malik notes, Facebook could use its Credits virtual currency to drive the SkypeOut service, which lets users call cell phones and landline phones.

Help Windows Phone
Microsoft's Windows Phone platform has been struggling in the crowded smartphone operating system marketplace, and Skype gives the company a viable video and voice chat competitor to Google's cross-platform Voice app and Apple's FaceTime.