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Facebook Press Conference: Social Network will integrate Microsoft’s Skype to take the fight to Google

As predicted, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at the press conference today to announce that – Yes, Facebook will integrate Skype video conferencing as a major new feature into the Social Network.

As Microsoft was making its $8.5-billion bid for the VoIP carrier service back in May, current Skype CEO Tony Bates was in discussions with The Zuck to bring the two together in a beautiful union for online socialites. This announcement was all the more predictable when a Facebook contacts feature recently popped up in the beta software for Skype 5.5 – now the service should work interchangably. Log into Facebook from Skype, and vice versa.

Speaking of Microsoft, this marriage welcomes all involvement by the tech giant and has the thumbs up from Big Ballms himself. “It was for both of us, Steve (Ballmer, CEO) and I, the most important strategic relationship” says Bates. Referring to the relationship in combating Google who have this week been the buzz of tech and social web news launching its trial friends service Google+ (which itself features a video and voice chat feature very reminiscent of Skype called +Hangouts) – in response, Facebook will now feature instant group chat and video chat just like the service The Gee are about to put out.

Zuckerberg chips in “We have a really good relationship with Microsoft, where we work with them on a lot of different stuff”. And let’s not forget the 1.6 percent stake the House of M already has in Facebook. Starting back in 2007 this was worth $240-million. Today? That figure is a whopping $1.3-billion. With Microsoft advertising through Zuck’s Social Network and Facebook recommendations introduced into the Bing search engine, the pair are clearly no strangers to one another and a business partnership between Facebook, Skype and Microsoft will become a force to be reckoned with. The social mogul continues “We’re in the process of figuring out what we want to do next”.

The Mountain View, CA, software and web company Google had influence ever-growing and seriously looked set to take over the game, and they may still do so by bringing a new personal touch and putting the ‘social’ back into the social internet. This big reveal couldn’t come at a better time for both Facebook and Skype (backed by Microsoft) – they looked set for the fight of their faux lives as the masses try to board the social Noah’s Arc that is Google+.

The official word says Skype for Facebook will be available in the next few weeks but a version is available to try right now by visiting https://www.facebook.com/videocalling

Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like, with our beautiful editor posing for the camera.

Be sure to leave your tweets and comments on the Official Gadget Helpline Twitter as well as our Official Facebook page!

[spoiler]
Call Your Friends Right From Facebook
from Facebook Blog by Philip Su

Over the last year, the messages team has been working to make it easier to have one on one conversations with your friends. In November, we launched the new messages, which brings together your chats, texts, emails and messages all in one place.

Today I’m excited to introduce video calling and other improvements to chat.

See The Friends You Message Most

The new chat design includes a sidebar that lists the people you message most. Now it’s easier to find your friends and start a conversation. The sidebar adjusts with the size of your browser window, and it automatically appears when the window is wide enough.

Create a Group Chat Instantly

We’re also launching multi-person chat, which is one of our most requested features. Now when your friends can’t figure out what movie to see, you can just add them to a chat and decide together. To include more friends in your conversation, simply select Add Friends to Chat.

And just like your other chats, the history of your conversation is available in messages.

Bring Your Conversations to Life

Video chat has been around for years now, but it’s still not an everyday activity for most people. Sometimes it’s too difficult to set up, or the friends you want to talk to are on different services.

So a few months ago, we started working with Skype to bring video calling to Facebook. We built it right into chat, so all your conversations start from the same place. To call your friend, just click the video call button at the top of your chat window.

Talk to friends around the world right from Facebook.

For those of us who have been working on this, it’s particularly exciting to bring video calling to over 750 million people. We’re making this available in over 70 different languages, so friends can stay in touch all over the world.

Video calling will be available to everyone over the next few weeks, but if you don’t want to wait, you can get it now.

Philip Su, an engineer on the video calling team, will be making his first video call to his parents back in Maryland[/spoiler]

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