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By 7 July 2011 | Categories: news

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Facebook earlier this week teased journalists by revealing that it was going to announce “something awesome” later the week. That “awesome” promise has now been revealed in the form of integrated video calling within Facebook in partnership with Skype.

Users will now be able to make and receive personal video calls within Facebook itself, possibly marking the end of many other video calling providers.

In May, VoIP service Skype was purchased by Microsoft for the somewhat lucrative fee of $8.5 billion, and according to CNET, the day the announcement was made Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Skype CEO Tony Bates went to pay a visit to Mark Zuckerberg.

“The day we announced, we definitely came to see Mark,” Bates said at yesterday's press conference. “It was for both of us, Steve and I, the most important strategic relationship.”

With the new partnership Microsoft and Facebook is fighting together against the ever growing online influence of Google, which has already diminished the reach of Microsoft's Bing, and is now directly competing against Facebook with the announcement of Google+.

The relationship between the two companies isn't something new either, with Microsoft buying a 1.6% stake in Facebook in 2007 for some $240 million.

The new video calling feature is also likely to be a bigger success because it can so easily be implemented by basically anyone (because almost everyone already owns Facebook accounts). Facebook users can now connect their accounts with Skype, which can be downloaded here, opening a new portal for video chat.

Microsoft has also hinted that it is thinking of integrating Skype into its Xbox 360 console, which can conceivably mean that in the near future you can have video conversation from your Facebook connected notebook with your friend on his TV and Xbox 360.

Google isn't resting on its laurels though, with its limited launch of its Google+ social network including a number of features superior to those of Facebook. Google+ Hangouts also offered video chat before the Facebook/Skype deal, and allows users to chat with up to nine other contacts, whereas Facebook only allows person-to-person calling.

To connect to the new video calling service, users must simply download and install Skype after which you can click on the 'Facebook' tab in the interface and integrate your two accounts.

Is video calling something you'll use in Facebook, or is it simply a gimmick to distract attention from Google's ominous rise? You be the judge.

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