Remember Skype’s High Water Mark, Microsoft Acquires Skype for $8.5 Billion, Probably All Downhill

According to Ars Technica and other news sources, Microsoft Acquires Skype for $8.5 Billion.

A simple question: Why? eBay purchased and then sold Skype for a huge loss after they never did anything substantial with the telephony service. Now, Microsoft is laying down $8.5 billion for Skype to purchase it from the company that acquired it from eBay. Perhaps Microsoft has big plans to transition to a telephony carrier. Perhaps they are simply trying to diversify their portfolio. However, $8.5 billion is nearly half of NASA’s budget for this year! That’s a load of cash for a telephony service that no-where-near gets enough revenue as it now stands to justify this kind of purchase. Microsoft has reportedly never made such a high-priced acquisition before, so I suspect that they have some secret up their sleeve for leveraging Skype and its technology in future products and services.

If Microsoft’s track record is any indication of their future plans for Skype, I suspect that it will be integrated into upcoming Windows releases as yet another layer of crap that doesn’t need to be built into an operating system. Take Windows 7 for example. I reinstalled it yesterday via Oracle’s Virtual Box software, and I immediately trashed it when I couldn’t get some software to run. However, I played around with it for a bit to see how things have changed. It is more streamlined than Vista, but it still contains loads of junk that the OS doesn’t need. Furthermore, it has counter-intuitive navigational and storage spaces for users.

Like others, I can say that Windows 7 is alright despite its problems, but I only say this because it corrects for the substantial problems in Vista. This shouldn’t be the way it is for a monolithic industry leader in modern computing technology. Instead of having Windows releases stand on their own as innovative products, I have read time and time again how Windows 7 stands in good stead due to the fact that it corrects for the horrible problems in Vista (bloat, system memory usage, instability, etc.). Microsoft shouldn’t premiere any OS that looks like and acts like it was built by 5 year old programmers playing in a sandbox. Yet, they do. Repeatedly.

What does this tell me about Skype, which generally does what it is supposed to do–allow you to talk and video chat with people around the world for a reasonable price–Microsoft is going to screw the pooch when they sink their tentacles into Skype. However, a future release might be better, but it probably won’t reacquire the level of usability and stability that it once had before Microsoft’s intervention.

We will see.

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

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Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on DynamicSubspace.net. Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

He welcomes questions, comments, and inquiries for collaboration via email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu or Twitter @dynamicsubspace.

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