Skype on Oct. 14 confirmed the weeks-old rumor of a Facebook integration with the beta launch of Skype 5.0 for Windows.
Skype is infusing Facebook's News Feed and Phonebook into its voice over IP calling platform.
By signing in through Facebook Connect, users can access a new Facebook tab. From there, Skype users will be able to post status updates, comments and click "like" buttons straight from Skype. Users will be able to sync their Skype mood with their Facebook status.
Also, by leveraging the Facebook Phonebook in Skype, users will be able to call and text message their Facebook friends directly on their mobile phones and landlines.
Users will be able to make free calls from Skype to Facebook friends who are also Skype users.
This is a significant partnership for both companies. With 560 million users, Skype is the VOIP calling leader.
Facebook has well over 500 million users of its social network. Both platforms share many of the same users.
By allowing Skype users to communicate with their Facebook contacts, the companies are socializing Skype in way that wasn't possible and adding calling capabilities previously unavailable to Facebook users.
This should increase traffic to both Websites. Some analysts believe that Facebook should acquire Skype. This integration could be a stepping stone to that move.
Skype 5.0 for Windows is also pushing video calling. People who download Skype 5.0 for Windows will receive a free trial of group video calling in beta.
This offer makes sense given that Skype said video calling accounted for 40 percent of all Skype-to-Skype minutes in the first half of 2010.
The rise of video calls on smartphones such as Apple's iPhone and Google Android handsets is also notable.
Pew Research said approximately 23 percent of Americans have made video calls from the Web or cell phone; this number is likely to rise as people make more video calls for personal and professional use.
The new Skype 5.0 for Windows also adds automatic call recovery to alleviate dropped-call pain from shaky Internet connections and a call-quality manager.
See a demo of the new Skype features from Skype Consumer Products Head Rick Osterloh here.