Cisco announced this week that it would appeal a months-old European Union (EU) approval of Microsoft's $8.5 billion purchase of Skype. The firm isn't trying to overturn the deal but is rather asking EU antitrust regulators to place conditions on the purchase that would require Microsoft to make Skype interoperable with other video communications systems.
"We did not take this action lightly," Cisco Senior Vice President Marthin De Beer wrote in a blog post explaining the action. "We respect the European Commission and value Microsoft as a customer, supplier, partner, and competitor ... [But] imagine how difficult it would be if you were limited to calling people who only use the same carrier or if your phone could only call certain brands and not others. Cisco wants to avoid this future for video communications."
De Beer says that video communications should be as easy as email is today, where users from disparate email services can seamlessly communicate with one another. But it's not generally possible to make video calls from one platform to another, De Beer notes, which is frustrating for both consumers and business users.
There are, of course, antitrust overtones to the challenge.
"Microsoft's plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock in businesses who want to reach Skype's 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform," De Beer writes.
Microsoft says that regulators at the European Commission (EC) thoroughly reviewed the impact its purchase of Skype would have on competition and cleared the deal. "We're confident the Commission's decision will stand up on appeal," a Microsoft spokesperson said.