Now when you connect to Facebook you can see when your Facebook friends are online and IM with them directly from Skype.
Now I don't have Windows to test it out (as you would know from my earlier post), but in working with fellow blogger Jim Courtney who uses Skype on both operating systems, this has some interesting aspects to it.
For starters, in Skype 5.5, the chat with the Facebook user appears in your left-side list of chats just like a chat with a Skype user. You have the same user experience chatting with a FB user as with a Skype user. (Subject to the caveat that Jim found he couldn't edit a message sent to a FB user, but that makes sense given that the message would leave Skype's network to go over to Facebook's network.)
When Jim went into his Facebook contacts he found my name (he and I are friends on FB) that I was currently "offline":
He noted that he could call me via a regular phone number... but not through Skype, even though we are connected on Skype. (So a bit of future integration work that could be done.)
Once I opened a browser and logged into Facebook, I showed up to Jim as online:
Jim initiated a chat... and to me it seemed to be just like a regular Facebook chat:
On Jim's side, it looked like just a regular Skype chat.
This is VERY cool!
Why? Because this is really the first direct integration I am aware of between Skype and any other IM service. Sure, there are any number of services that people have connected to Skype to bridge Skype messages out to XMPP/Jabber or other networks... but they aren't directly supported by Skype and in my experience some of them haven't worked too well.
Now, I don't know how Skype actually accomplished the Facebook chat integration. I do know that Facebook supports XMPP (Jabber) for connections to external services for chat, so this would be one very obvious way for Skype to make the connection to Facebook. They might have done the integration at a deeper level. I don't know.
But if Skype did add an XMPP gateway to the edge of their network... that's great news... and perhaps may bode well for future integration with other IM services.
Meanwhile, even if it is only on one platform, kudos to the folks at Skype for lowering the walls a bit and connecting out to the other IM networks!
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