Three Things Microsoft Needs From Skype

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By Louis BedigianEver since Microsoft  announced that it would acquire Skype, consumers, techies and investors alike began to wonder about the two companies’ future together.

For the moment, Microsoft insists that it will keep and grow the Skype brand (unlike Cisco (


: CSCO), which acquired and killed the makers of Flip Video).

But if Microsoft is to get the most out of this acquisition, what should it do? Let’s take a look at the top three things that the Windows maker needs from Skype.

3. PowerPoint Connectivity

There has been a lot of talk about what Microsoft could do with a Skype-enhanced version of Word or Excel. But unless you’re a business professional trying to complete a very specific task, this might not sound like much of an innovation.

PowerPoint, on the other hand, was practically built for Skype.

First and foremost, Microsoft could quickly link the two products together for seamless online presentations. Instead of having to use an inferior web tool, and instead of forcing your attendees to create another account for yet another service, you could simply use Skype to share your presentation in real-time. Since Skype already has a screen sharing feature, this shouldn’t be too difficult for Microsoft to implement.

Long-term, Microsoft could redesign PowerPoint from the ground up to work more efficiently and more effectively with Skype.

2. Kinect Games

Kinect is already a huge success on Xbox 360. Soon, it will arrive on Windows PCs. When that happens, hundreds of millions of additional consumers will be exposed to this motion-based technology.

Microsoft Game Studios (the company’s video games division) should begin to experiment with the possibilities of a Skype-infused Kinect game. Technologically, everything is already in place: Kinect provides the camera and the motion, and Skype provides a superior video call and video conferencing interface. When combined, the two technologies could produce an impressive array of augmented reality games.

Suppose you have one augmented reality card and your friend has another. When you place one in front of the Kinect camera, it would appear on both your screen and your friend’s screen. Same with his card, thus allowing players to interact with these virtual objects whether they are standing next to each other in the same room or are several thousand miles apart.

This is only the beginning of what’s possible. I’m sure that actual game developers can come up with far more creative ideas than what I’ve presented here (provided that Microsoft gives them the opportunity, of course).

1. Unparalleled PC/Device/Game Console Integration

When you turn on your computer, when you fire up your phone, when you pop a game into your Xbox 360, you should be able to receive video calls – instantly and brilliantly – without having to lift a finger.

These calls should be both seamless and instantaneous. Ex: if you’re playing Halo, a small window would pop up on the screen, bringing your friend into the fold without interrupting the game. Microsoft could program Skype to figure out the best possible placement for the window to appear, allowing the call to emerge in a different place depending on the game you are playing.

This experience should carry over to phones and tablets as well. Obviously a phone has a much smaller screen than a game console, which could be hooked up to any size TV. But Microsoft, a company that wants nothing more than to beat Apple in at least one category, could use Skype as the perfect opportunity to one-up the Mac maker.

Imagine how cool it would be if the image of your video calls gradually slid onto the screen as they were received. Before answering, the call would only take up half of the screen, allowing users to continue playing a game, reading e-mails, sending texts, etc., without an annoying pop-up window that covers the whole display.

If the user chooses to accept the call, the image would slide across the rest of the screen, filling out the phone and providing the user with an experience that’s far more immersive than FaceTime.