Skype continues to build out its capabilities. November 8, 2012, it launched a new online platform, Skype in the workspace (SITW). As Skype puts it:

SITW: A place for small businesses to instantly connect with potential customers, partners and suppliers across the globe.

Sounds familiar? Here’s why. This is the Facebook tagline:

Facebook: A social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them.

The Skype communications suite is becoming increasingly social in nature. Skype already moved into the social consumer space through connecting with Facebook. Skype has just become Microsoft’s messaging platform of choice with 330 million registered Windows Live Messenger users worldwide being persuaded to migrate to Skype. With SITW it is now launching its own social business platform in the small business arena.

Since Microsoft acquired Skype in May 2011, the company has been working steadily on expanding features and functionality in the communications space. Also, the company has been developing new ways of monetizing its platform beyond voice and video minutes through adding advertising, app stores, and Wi-Fi Internet access to its portfolio.

But now it looks increasingly likely that Microsoft is also turning Skype into a social business suite. In the social business space, Skype is taking on the likes of LinkedIn:

LinkedIn: Manage your professional identity. Build and engage with your professional network. Access knowledge, insights and opportunities.

LinkedIn acquired the professional content sharing platform Slideshare earlier this year. Slideshare has dedicated cloud based conferencing capabilities that enable Slideshare Pro members to share slide content through online meetings.

LinkedIn is adding communications capabilities to its social business suite. Skype is adding social business capabilities to its communications suite. The goal of both is to increase the number of users and the average user time spent on the social suite. More users and more time online equals more advertising dollars and more subscription revenues.

Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet. SITW is Skype+Facebook+LinkedIn for small business.