In a somewhat surprising move, Microsoft has confirmed that it's in the process of buying VOIP service Skype for the princely sum of $8.5 billion (£5.2 billion).
Skype had previously been sold to eBay for $2.6 billion back in 2006, before eBay sold 70 per cent of its stake to private investors for $2 billion in 2009.
Rumours had circulated about Skype re-listing itself on the stock market, but Microsoft has swooped in, paying what many industry analysts
see as over the odds for the VOIP company. Skype, despite its user base of over 600 million, was only able to turn a profit of $20.6 million in 2010.
Whether this acquisition means that Skype will be rolled into Microsoft's existing Live Essentials portfolio is unclear. However, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the BBC that 'if you use Skype today, you're going to be able to continue to use Skype,
' indicating that the Skype brand will continue to exist, rather than being exclusively integrated into Windows Live Messenger.
Are you a heavy Skype user who's worried about Microsoft's impact? Do you think Microsoft should roll Skype into its Live Essentials portfolio? Let us know in the forums.