A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that Facebook and Skype were readying an integration partnership that would give Facebook users a new medium for online communication, and would give Skype access to Facebook’s 500+ million user base.

As reported by Mashable, this partnership has surfaced with Skype’s launch of its newest version, Skype 5.  So how does this new integration work?  First, you need to have a Skype account, you will not be able to log into Skype using your Facebook account.  After logging in and agreeing to sync your Facebook account, a new Facebook tab shows up which is quite literally your Facebook news feed.

The Facebook tab’s newsfeed looks exactly like your newsfeed on Facebook.  The only difference is that under each status update, there are two Skype buttons: SMS and Call.  However, these buttons only appear to show up if your Facebook friend has his or her number listed on their Facebook profile.

Additionally, if your Facebook friend is a mutual connection on Skype there will also be the option to make a free Skype call.  If a Facebook friend is not a mutual Skype connection, but you are both on Skype at the same time, there is an option to add them as a Skype connection.

So how exactly does this partnership benefit each company?  As I already mentioned, Facebook gains a new medium for its users to communicate through, and Skype gets access to Facebook’s active 500+ million-user base.  There are more benefits however.

For Facebook, Skype gives it a push in the international market.  Skype is very popular overseas, and in some markets such as India and Brazil, Facebook is having difficulty overcoming Google’s Orkut.

This partnership also brings Facebook one step closer to being the central hub for all online communication for its users.  Now through Facebook users can post on walls, send each other messages (e-mail), chat with each other via Facebook chat (instant messaging) and can now video chat directly with each other.

Skype has nearly 600 million registered users, yet only 124 million that use the service monthly.  The new Facebook integration should boost the number of users using the services monthly thanks to Facebook’s highly active user base.

Lastly, this partnership gives both companies more power to compete with Google voice.  It is a great business move by both, and I look forward to seeing the impact it is going to have on the online world.

So what’s next?  With Facebook’s newly launched group feature, and Skype’s newly launched group video calling, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ll be able to group call your Facebook groups directly from Skype.  The only problem with this currently, is that Facebook groups can have hundreds of people (although according to Mark Zuckerberg, they are ideally set up for 20-25) whereas with Skype’s group video calling you can only have 10 people in a call at once.

What are your thoughts on this partnership?  Is it a good move?  What do you think is next?  I would love to hear (well read) your thoughts in the comments.