Moscow: Software giant Microsoft has bought Internet communications company Skype for USD 8.5 billion in its largest ever acquisition deal, Microsoft said on Friday.

“Skype is a phenomenal product and brand that is loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world. We look forward to working with the Skype team to create new ways for people to stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues - anytime, anywhere,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was quoted in a statement as saying.

Skype CEO Tony Bates will head the Skype Division in Microsoft.

“By bringing together the best of Microsoft and the best of Skype, we are committed to empowering consumers and businesses around the globe to connect in new ways. Together, we will be able to accelerate Skype's goal to reach one billion users daily,” Bates said.

The number of registered users of Skype, founded in 2003, exceeds 500 million people, while monthly audience of the service reaches 170 million users.