updated 03:00 pm EDT, Fri October 14, 2011
New update "fixes" bundled Google software "issue"
Yesterday, Microsoft officially finalized its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype. Although the VoIP service provider is now a unique division within Microsoft, and the company reiterated it would stay platform agnostic, subtle changes are already taking place. Skype today released version 5.6 for Windows users (free, Skype), and it includes a noteworthy functional change. Google apps are no longer bundled in the installation package.
Other than the removal of Google, Release 5.6 appears to be mainly a maintenance update. Microsoft curiously calls dropping the Google content as a "fixed issue." Google install options have been eliminated from Skype's earlier 5.5 release as well.
Microsoft's actions were expected but nonetheless underscore some of the motives behind buying Skype. It now has a direct equivalent to Google Talk that it wants to infiltrate virtually every category, including not just the desktop but also Windows Phone.