Microsoft is currently waiting for approval from Brussels for the planned $8.5 billion, or €5.9 billion, takeover of Skype. This deal is Microsoft’s biggest proposed acquisition and it was approved by the US antitrust regulators earlier in June. So the EU approval is one of the remaining regulatory hurdles in the way of finalizing the deal, especially considering Microsoft’s long-strained relations with the European competition authorities in the past.
The official decision from Brussels is scheduled for Oct. 7 but the word is that the EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia is to give the green light to the proposed acquisition deal. Voices in opposition of the approval claim that this is Microsoft’s golden opportunity to bundle its Windows software with an Internet phone service and block out any competitive software from other companies, which has always gone against the European Commission’s principles.
In response, Microsoft has explained that Skype can function on quite a number of software platforms, including Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, so Windows is only one of the available choices for users. Furthermore, Microsoft promised Skype’s availability on rival software platforms, saying that Apple users can still use Skype on their iPhone’s and iPad’s, and Google users on their Android phones and tablets. However, if EU clears the way and the deal eventually goes through, it would enable Microsoft’s new Windows Phones to compete directly with Google and Apple smartphones in terms of incorporating the popular feature of video chat.