As you certainly know Microsoft last week announced the acquisition of Skype, one of the largest of the company history. In fact, they paid 8.5 billion dollars for the world-known virtual phone company. Now I don't want to get into the financial details, nor comment about the price (quite high, from what I can see, but possibly good to position Microsoft beyond its traditional business).

What I'm mostly interested, instead, is to focus on a detail, but not a minor one. The Skype client for Windows, by large and far their most successful and commonly used one, is written in Delphi. One could wonder is a Delphi application is worth 8 billions, how much Delphi should be worth... but that would be a just a little misleading! It is certainly a good ad for Delphi, hope Embarcadero marketing can piggy-back on it.

Using Delphi was a good for Skype?

From the developer perspective, the real and valuable point is to try to figure out how much the decision to use Delphi was a good one for Skype in the first place, if it contributed to the product success and the company success, and what if they had picked a different development tool. I think the answer to this question highlights some of the most positive features of Delphi for ISVs who want to make the distribution of their applications easy.

The fact you don't need a run time environment (such a Java or .NET) makes the distribution of a Delphi program significantly simpler than a C# or Java application. Also, it makes it possible to support a larger number of Windows versions from a single executable. Now the Skype download is quite large, but it used to be smaller in the early days, when bandwidth was more limited. Still, not requiring dozens when not hundreds of Megabytes of libraries makes it smaller than most managed applications. Beside not needing libraries, there are also no COM component or other libraries requiring a specific configuration on Windows, again making the deployment and installation quite simple.

On a different side, although I don't know much about the internals of Skype, Delphi high quality Windows application integration, the support for multiple socket libraries and sets of visual controls, can help to create the next Skype clone easier than other non-managed development tools, like Microsoft Visual C++.

Skype and Delphi

So, I think Delphi contributed to the success of Skype, altough it is hard to say how much. Now can Skype contribute to the success of Delphi? Possibly... don't you want to use a tool which could let you create an 8 billon company? Jokes apart, letting everyone know that the Skype client for Windows is written in Delphi is a rather good way to push the Embarcadero development tool. But it is not alone, see the for quite a few other applications written in Delphi.