Gates defends Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition, saying it'll be "fascinating" to see what comes next
Bill Gates has stepped forward as the driving force behind Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype.
The buyout was the largest in Microsoft's history and many criticised the software giant for paying too much for the VoIP firm, which has only 10 million paying users.
Gates handed the reins of the firm to Steve Ballmer in 2008, and sought to take some of the heat off of his successor.
"I was a strong proponent at the board level for the deal being done," Gates, who remains chairman of the board at Microsoft, told the BBC.
"I think it's a great, great deal for Skype. I think it's a great deal for Microsoft," he added.
Gates suggested the deal wasn't designed just to keep Skype out of rivals' hands (Facebook and Google had also been seen considering making offers).
"The idea of video conferencing is going to get so much better than it is today," Gates said. "Skype actually does get a fair bit of revenue ... the operating business is a fairly good business.
"And the opportunity to take that broad consumer communication and connect it in with the future of what the PBX and how corporate communications works ... it'll be fascinating to see how the brilliant ideas out of Microsoft research, coming together with Skype, what they can make of that," he added.
When the BBC presenter suggested the deal "smacked of desperation", Gates' only response was: "It's a great purchase, which a lot of innovation will come out of."