Deep Skype integration promised in next-gen Windows Phone

Not only is a Windows Phone Skype app incoming, but Microsoft will "further integrate" the VoIP service into future versions of its smartphone OS, according to Skype CEO Tony Bates. Details on the nature of the deeper integration are still unclear, though the assumption is that – just as Android allows outgoing and incoming calls to be routed over either traditional mobile networks or via VoIP – Windows Phone will give users the option to choose the cheapest route for their calls, as well as presumably sync Skype contacts with the handset's address book and show presence status.

Microsoft acquired Skype back in October, at the time promising a "ubiquity of the Skype experience" and reassuring users that "communication across every device and every platform will remain a primary focus." At the time, that was seen as a commitment to maintaining versions of Skype for Mac, Android, iOS and other platforms.

However, Skype could also be a significant draw for future iterations of Windows Phone. The VoIP company already owns a cross-platform IM app, GroupMe, bought back in August last year, while a deal with Facebook provides video calls between users of the social network, albeit currently only on the desktop. Meanwhile, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has already suggested that the company could use the VoIP tech to undermine reliance on traditional carriers.

If Microsoft can position its smartphone platform as one which not only clears the divide between cell calls and VoIP, but saves users money in the process, that could be a significant marketing point for Windows Phone. We'll settle for a native Skype app in the meantime, however.