• 1.

    AP Photo By: Patrick Sinkel

  • 2. Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday that it has agreed to buy the popular Internet telephone service Skype SA for $8.5 billion in the biggest deal in the software maker’s 36-year history. Buying Skype would give Microsoft a potentially valuable communications tool as it tries to become a bigger force on the Internet and in the increasingly important smartphone market. Microsoft said it will marry Skype’s functions to its Xbox game console, Outlook email program and Windows smartphones. The company said it plans to continue to support Skype on other software platforms.

  • 3.

    Guardian Photo By: Franz-Peter Tschauner

  • 4. About 170 million people log in to Skype’s services every month, though not all of them make calls. Skype users made 207 billion minutes of voice and video calls last year. In 2005, eBay attempted to capitalize on Skype’s popularity by purchasing the company for $2.6 billion but was never able to unite the phone service with its online shopping bazaar.