Microsoft set to win approval for Skype deal in Europe

By Lee Kaelin on October 7, 2011, 9:30 AM

Microsoft is set to win the approval of Brussels for its planned $8.5 billion acquisition of the online telephone service Skype, marking the turnaround of a long-standing troubled relation with European competition authorities.

EU competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia will reportedly green light the proposed deal without any changes required by Microsoft, despite complaints from competitors claiming they could bundle the software with its Windows operating system.

Almunia's decision to clear the purchase without an in-depth second-phase investigation will be a huge relief to Microsoft, freeing it to push the deal through without further delays. This follows on from the US Federal Trade Commission stating it was satisfied that there was sufficient competition to allow the deal to go ahead. The deal is still currently under review in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia and Taiwan, however.

Microsoft has long been seen as the combative arch enemy of the EU commission, based in Brussels, after its battles in the nineties over the bundling of Internet Explorer and its media player software in the Windows operating system. The decision to allow the takeover without a hitch marks a complete reverse in fortunes for the Redmond based company.

Microsoft argued that putting together Skype with its 145 million active users per month, together with its users of existing devices and software platforms, would boost the attraction of their products. They also promised to ensure that any future releases of Skype would be available on multiple platforms, including OS X and Android.

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