Rumors have been flying the last few days that either Google or Facebook would buy Skype, the popular Internet phone service. But now it appears Microsoft will swoop in and buy the company for roughly $7 billion.
That is what was just reported by the Wall Street Journal, which said "negotiations were wrapping up Monday evening" and an acquisition could be announced as early as Tuesday. However, the Journal couches the report by saying "a deal could still fall apart," so perhaps Google or Facebook still have a chance.
Facebook and Google have built two of the biggest Web empires, while Microsoft is struggling to define its Web identity without cannibalizing sales of big revenue generators such as Windows and Office. A purchase of Skype would be "Microsoft's most aggressive move yet to play in the increasingly-converged worlds of communication, informaiton and entertainment," the Journal article notes.
Skype could become part of Microsoft's Online Services Division, which includes the Bing search engine and happens to be the only major product division at Microsoft that is a money-loser. Skype could therefore boost Microsoft's fortunes substantially.
No official deal has been announced, but we're likely to learn a lot about the future of Skype in the coming days.