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Skype Boss Tony Bates on His Lovely New Life at Microsoft

Tony Bates insists that Skype’s life as a Microsoft unit is going swimmingly.

Asa Mathat /

“It’s been great,” Bates said, speaking Thursday at D: All Things Digital.

But, as interviewer Kara Swisher quickly pointed out, of course he’d say that.

Bates noted that the company now has 250 million monthly connected users, up from 170 million when Microsoft’s $8.5 billion deal closed eight months ago.

Keeping Skype’s unique culture has been important to both Microsoft and the Skype team, Bates said, noting that the company has development all around the world, but not in Microsoft’s hometown in Redmond. The company is being “harmonized” rather than “integrated” with Microsoft, Bates said.

On the product side, there will be more integration with Microsoft products.

“One of the things we are going to do is double down on Windows 8,” Bates said, using a phrase popular at this year’s conference, ever since Tim Cook noted that he was “doubling down” on secrecy.

Bates also aimed for a bit of secrecy when it comes to future products, but suggested that deeper integration with Windows and other Microsoft products could be on the horizon.

“We’re on that journey,” he said. “You’ll have to wait and see.”

On Windows Phone, Bates said that clearly Skype will have an opportunity to do some “first and best” work on Microsoft’s phone platform.

“I think their phone is great,” Bates said. “I definitely think we can add value to the phone.”

Mobile overall, though, is a key priority for Skype, and that includes continuing work for all major platforms, Bates said. The iPhone is the largest of those, but Android is rapidly growing, Bates said.

Bates said that the living room is also an important area, and that he personally loves Kinect, but he declined to talk about the company’s Xbox plans.

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