The news came out this morning that Microsoft had, in fact, agreed to purchase Skype for $8.5B. I suppose that I've known all along that Skype would not go on as-is forever. My hope was that it would go IPO and remain committed and focused to what it does really well. With the news this morning, I'm filled with more than a bit of trepidation. You see we've gone through this once before with a product called Groove.
Back in 2005-06, we purchased a software product from a company called Groove Networks. Ray Ozzie was the founder and brainiac behind it. In simple terms, it was peer to peer software that allowed us to share files, projects and other tools on any computer we set up without a central server...sort of. There actually was a central server that Groove Networks controlled that made the whole thing tick. Then, Microsoft bought Ray Ozzie...I mean bought Groove Networks and made Ray Ozzie the big man on campus.
Groove was "integrated" into Microsoft's Office server stack meaning that the free standing product went away. For folks that love Microsoft products, it was a bonus. We were Microsoft centric at the time but considering all options with the coming release of Vista. The bigger problem was that during the transition our project management tool that was built in Groove wouldn't work with any new releases of Groove. As we added people, we couldn't add more Groove licenses and, even if we could, our core project management tool wouldn't work on the new version (which is all you could get). FAIL.
That was the straw that broke the camels back for me. I purchased my first Mac (having never personally logged into a mac in my life) in January 2006. I transitioned literally overnight and have never gone back.
Here's my fear. Skype is unique. It's the only solution I've found that meets all of our real-time web communication needs. We use it for instant messaging, voice, group video...even phone calls to the telephone people. :-) It works really well. It's what allows us to run our business with folks working from home. It empowers us to collaborate with clients spread all over the United States. Now it's in the hands of Microsoft which has a penchant for making you drink the whole cup of kool-aid if you want any of the tools inside the cup.
I feel like it's 2005 again. Google Talk is looking pretty good right now.