A beta version of VoIP service Skype is now available to download for the Windows Phone.

Microsoft, which purchased Skype last year in a deal worth €6 billion, said a full-featured version will launch later this year.

The beta app has features that Skype’s 200 million average monthly connected users are already familiar with, including Skype-to-Skype audio and video calling, affordable calls to landlines and mobile with Skype Credit, and IM.

According to Microsoft, the app is based around two key content areas: contacts and messages, where recent calls, IMs, and voice mails will be grouped together.

“It’s really important to take advantage of the new technologies and innovations that are happening in the Windows Phone ecosystem and connect them with Skype’s cross-platform communications network,” said Rick Osterloh, vice president of products and design at Skype.

“Now a whole big class of users is unlocked with this application, and it allows for a new form of communication from Windows Phone into the Skype network.”

Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum, said the news was an important step in Microsoft’s strategy to make Skype a ubiquitous – and unavoidable – part of its product portfolio

"A pervasive Skype has much greater potential to disrupt existing models of communication than one that is dependent on users proactively choosing to install it," he commented.

“In this capacity it could begin to act as a social “glue” helping to drive usage of the service and furthering sales of Skype-enabled Microsoft products considerably in future. It could eventually help blur the lines between business users and consumers with Skype increasingly seen as simply a convenient tool to communication available anywhere.”

Microsoft also announced it is bringing the Windows Phone to 23 new markets, increasing its global footprint by 60 percent.

“It's easy to see why we're so bullish on 2012 and why we expect it to be a big year for Windows Phone, as we know it will be for the whole Windows family,” said Greg Sullivan, senior marketing manager for Windows Phone.

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