Microsoft Will Release Skype Application for Windows Phones

Skype-Like Calls Seen Boosting Vodafone
Microsoft is stepping up its promotion of Skype, following its $8.5 billion acquisition of the company last year. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Microsoft Corp. will release a Skype video-calling application for its Windows Phone marketplace, aiming to use last year’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype Technologies SA to boost the popularity of its mobile software.

Microsoft plans to have the app available in April, Terry Myerson, head of the Redmond, Washington-based company’s mobile business, said in an interview last week. It will unveil the software today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, and release a version for beta testers.

Microsoft bought Skype to gain customers and enhance its existing products -- such as Windows phones and Xbox game consoles, along with Internet-calling and videoconferencing software. Skype customers made more than 300 billion minutes of calls last year, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said in January. The service, which handles both voice and video calls, is the top provider of international calling.

Windows Phone has just 2 percent of the mobile operating-system market, and lags behind Apple Inc. and Google Inc. in providing apps. Both those rivals already have Skype apps.

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