Facebook, in an attempt to mitigate the damage done by Google+, made a big integration announcement this week. Starting now, if you install Skype version 5.0 for Windows, you will be able to use Skype from within Facebook.
Most of the "usefulness" is hokum, such as being able to read your news feed from within the Skype client, but there are some legitimate features as well. The integration of video chatting into Facebook is something that is needed, if for no other reason than Google Chat already includes video, and Google Chat is integrated into Google+.
What else has Facebook got planned for new features? Hit the break to find out.
The Skype addition is not all that unexpected. Former Microsoft CEO and founder Bill Gates invested $240 million of Microsoft's money into Facebook back in 2007, which gave Microsoft a 1.6% stake in the company. Recently, Microsoft also acquired Skype for $8.5 billion and vowed to see it integrated into the top services. Considering Microsoft has ownership in both companies, their pairing off to fight the big, bad Google was inevitable.
Ethan Beard, a Facebook Blog author, explains it a little differently,
Few things are better than connecting with friends and family, especially when you're far apart. Skype provides a great way to communicate with people no matter where they are. And starting today, it's also making it easier for you to connect with your Facebook friends.
Obviously discussing being partially owned by Microsoft and integrating a Microsoft technology into their service to try and compete with an inferior beta Google product isn't the press they wanted to generate.
In addition to Skype, they have also implemented a new chat management system. In the old system you saw the people who were online and were able to start conversation with them. With the new system, you can see the people you chat with most often whether they are online or not. If you want to start a conversation with, or check the status of, someone not on that list, you're out of luck.
I never said all of the "enhancements" were great. The new ability to group chat, however, is a nice addition. Facebook is clearly taking what they have learned from all other messengers and trying to integrate it into one giant service. With all of the focus of Facebook going into messaging, it will be fun to see how they change their profiling system over the next few months to combat the impending Google+ threat even more.