Released in August 2003, Skype is a freemium voice-over-IP service and instant messaging service. It was created by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, in cooperation with Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn.
In 2011, it was bought for $8.5 billion by Microsoft. Skype was incorporated as a division of Microsoft, and Microsoft acquired all of the company’s technologies with the purchase. The service allows users to communicate with others by voice, video, and instant-messaging. Phone calls may be placed both to other Skype users and to recipients with traditional telephone networks.
While calls within the Skype service are free, calls to landlines and mobile phones are charged via a debit-based user account system. Skype has also become popular for features like file transfer and videoconferencing. As of February 2012, Skype provides customer support through a variety of channels, including direct contact via email and live chat through the web support portal.