Microsoft's recent acquisition of Skype was not generally well received by the market. However, some investors might rethink their opinion after learning that Bill Gates was one of the major proponents of the deal.
In an interview with BBC News, Gates highlighted his general optimism for the deal: "I think it's a great, great deal for Skype. I think it's a great deal for Microsoft." Skype will allow Microsoft to expand its reach into video conferencing, an area that Gates expects will continue to grow and generate revenue: "The idea of video conferencing is going to get so much better than it is today. Skype actually does get a fair bit of revenue."
Gates also expects that Microsoft Research and Skype will combine to build some awesome products: "It'll be fascinating to see how the brilliant ideas out of Microsoft research, coming together with Skype, what they can make of that."
Regardless, by acquiring Skype, Microsoft now has access to hundreds of millions of users across a variety of platforms. In the end, the deal was never about whether Skype would make any money for Microsoft today, but rather what sort of future strategic advantage it would provide for Microsoft. By directly integrating Skype across their diverse product range, Microsoft will be able to leverage the platform and promote unique features in their own products such as Windows Phone 7. The combination of acquiring Skype and the deal with Nokia to utilize Windows Phone 7 in their smartphones should provide a distinct advantage for Microsoft over its competitors.