Microsoft’s big Skype acquisition faces opposition in Europe

Skype competitor Messagenet is asking European regulators to prevent Microsoft from integrating Skype with Windows as a condition of approval for its $8.5 billion acquisition of the online communications company.

Legal experts are divided on the implications of the opposition, with some considering it a routine complaint and others saying it could delay the deal, according to a New York Times report. Regulators in Europe have been dogged in their pursuit of Microsoft over its inclusion of programs such as Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player as part of Windows in the past, requiring new degrees of separation.

Europe’s competition commissioner is set to announce a decision on the Skype deal next week, according to the report.

The acquisition of Skype would be the largest in Microsoft’s history.

At Microsoft’s meeting with financial analystsrthis month, CEO Steve Ballmer said, “We are hopeful we’ll close out the regulatory process in Europe here over the course of the next several months and proceed with the full integration of Skype as part of our consumer and enterprise offers, and then do even more to drive real-time video and meetings as an important set of scenarios in which we invest.”

Update: In a statement, a Microsoft spokesman said, “Skype is a valuable and popular product that Microsoft will continue to supply as such. The proposed acquisition is still undergoing regulatory review and we are working closely with the agencies.  Until all regulatory approvals are obtained, it is business as usual at Microsoft and at Skype.”