Time to give up on programming applications for Skype?

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2013 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, skype, API

If you have used third party software to bring extra functionality to Skype like call recording or integrating the ability to integrate in a non-standard way then you better enjoy it now as you only have until December before you are cut off.  At that time Microsoft will be blocking access of all third party apps to Skype which will break not only your own applications but will reduce Skype's compatibility with some headsets.  You can follow the link to the Change.org petition that is in The Inquirer's coverage of this decision.

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"ANGRY DEVELOPERS, a breed not unlike Angry Birds but without the desire to fling themselves at naughty pigs, have started a petition asking Microsoft to withdraw its plan to switch off the desktop API for Skype."

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Source: The Inquirer

IFA 2013: Toshiba Launches 8-Inch Tablet Running Windows 8.1

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 9, 2013 - 03:14 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, toshiba, tablet, skype, microsoft, Intel, ifa 2013, Bay Trail, atom

Toshiba has launched a new 8-inch tablet called the Encore at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany. The upcoming tablet is an 8-inch device measuring 10.68mm thick and weighing 479 grams (~1.06 pounds). It runs the full version of Windows 8.1 and is coming in November.

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The Encore has an 8-inch 1280 x 800 multi-touch HFFS display surrounded by a shiny black bezel. There is a 2MP webcam, Windows button, and Toshiba logo on the front face. The back of the tablet has rounded edges and corners. It has a silver-colored finish and houses another Toshiba logo and an 8MP main camera. In addition to the webcam, the Encore tablet has stereo speakers and two microphones (for noise cancelation). IO includes a Micro SD card slot, micro HDMI video output, and micro USB interfaces.

Toshiba has opted for Intel's latest Bay Trail Atom SoCs to power its 8-inch Windows tablet. Specifically, Toshiba has packed a quad core Bay Trail SoC, 2GB of system memory, 32GB of internal storage. Internal sensors include a gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS. Further, the Encore features a dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi radio. According to Toshiba, the tablet exhibits "exceptional battery life," but beyond that the company has not released exact numbers.

The Encore will come with Windows 8.1 pre-installed along with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 and Xbox SmartGlass. Naturally, user-accessible internal storage will be limited due to the size of Windows 8.1. Luckily, users will be able to add additional storage via a Micro SD card. The tablet is Skype certified, as well.

The Toshiba Encore tablet will be available for purchase in November for $329.

Source: Hexus.net

An Open Source and encrypted Skype alternative called Jitsi

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2013 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: zrtp, sip, xmpp, voip, skype, open source, Jitsi, encryption

Jitsi seems to be a lot of things, from an IM Client agglomerator such as Pidgin or Digsby, a combined XMPP and SIP VoIP client to a videoconferencing hub with all traffic encrypted using ZRTP.  This Open Source software also claims integration with Microsoft Outlook and Apple Address Book, putting it in competition with Skype on more than one front.  Unfortunately it will not connect to all online SIP or XMPP provider but Jitsi does offer an open XMPP bridge to host video calls and as it is open source there is no reason you could not construct your own.  With the release of version 2.0 a host of new features and improvements have been added which you can read about by following the links at Slashdot.  They have also partnered with the FMJ Project to allow recording of sessions as well as other possible customization thanks to the developers Wiki.

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"Among the most prominent new features people will find quality multi-party video conferences for XMPP, audio device hot-plugging, support for Outlook presence and calls, an overhauled user interface and support for the Opus and VP8 audio/video codec. Jitsi has lately shaped into one of the more viable open Skype Alternatives with features such as end-to-end ZRTP encryption for audio and video calls. The 2.0 version has been in the works for almost a year now, so this is an important step for the project."

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Source: Slashdot

No, Microsoft is not recording your Skype converstations with Mom

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2012 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: fud, skype, microsoft, office 2013

It is highly unlikely that the reason many of Skype's Supernodes have been moved to the inside of Microsoft data centres is to allow them to record your Skype conversations.  Consider instead the numerous guides on the net to disable the ability of Skype to co-opt your PC into being a temporary supernode.  With many users opting out of that necessary piece of Skype's infrastructure it could possibly cause quality of service issues with Skype.  As Microsoft is planning on bundling Skype in with the new version of Office, it makes sense that they want at least some supernodes of which they can guarantee a certainly level of QoS to their paying customers.  As The Register points out, they need to find some way to recoup the expense of purchasing the company.

The patent that Microsoft holds to allow for the silent recording of transmissions between two computers, like VoIP, is of some concern but perhaps not as much as some other coverage would have you believe.  The patent application was filed almost 2 years before the purchase of Skype; while it could certainly be used on Skype connections it seems unlikely that it was designed specifically with Skype in mind.  Perhaps a more logical application of this patent would be to offer a way for business users to record conference calls natively and not need to rely on third party software to enable them to do so.  Skype has offered up unencrypted recordings to law enforcement agencies in the past but only did so in special circumstances.  It is likely to continue to do so for as long as the laws of the land consider that process to be legal but the likelihood of general recording of all Skype conversations is almost nil.

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"Skype has issued a formal denial to reports that it has been allowing law enforcement to listen in on users' calls following a change in its system architecture.

"Some media stories recently have suggested Skype may be acting improperly or based on ulterior motives against our users' interests. Nothing could be more contrary to the Skype philosophy," said Mark Gillett, Skype's chief development and operations officer in a blog post."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft prepares Skype to be preinstalled on Windows 7 PCs They also ignore the latest version of Skype

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 31, 2012 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: skype, OEM, bloatware, crapware

Just after their $99 Signature service has been announced, Microsoft has provided OEMs with a version of Skype to be pre-installed on Windows 7 PCs. I wonder if they will take it off again if you pay them?

Just… give me a minute…

So Microsoft hates bloatware unless it is theirs. OEM partners have been paid by software vendors to provide demos of products integrated and pre-installed for the end-user. Commonly you will see a few game demos, the Kindle software, an antivirus trial, and Skype. Earlier in the month Microsoft created a service at their retail outlets to scrub computers clean of the bloat for $99.

And now that they own Skype they desire for OEMs to integrate it with Windows 7…

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Here’s my dotted line for your Signature.

More humorous is that they will integrate Skype 5.8 rather than the newer Skype 5.9. Granted, it is unsurprising that a company would be slightly behind in versions particularly since the latest dot-release is less than two months old. Skype has been known to be slightly less desirable as you increase in version number and as such makes me crack a smirk either way. The latest release in particular has allegedly been the cause of minor glitches in recent podcasts with TWiT studios recommending rolling back to 5.8.

If anything this makes me slightly curious about Windows 8.

Source: ZDNet

Skype fall down, go boom ... doubtful Microsoft has anything to do with it

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2011 - 12:12 PM |
Tagged: fud, skype, microsoft

According to The Inquirer, at 12:15 GMT (+1 hr thanks to daylight savings), Skype suffered a major network failure that seems to not only have taken out the Skype VoIP client but also impacted the availablitity of their site.  As of right now there is no work around or solution, Skype is investigating the cause but for now other clients are your best bet for communicating over the web. 

Since this has occured 2 weeks after Microsoft purchased Skype, speculation is running rampant that this is some sort of planned interruption.  It seems a little far fetched to think that even a company with as much financial power as Microsoft would dump $8.5 billion just to shut down a competing service.  They are going to want some return on their investment and simply using Skype's patents, some of which are still under review now or its infrastructure to prop up Sharepoint is not going to return that money.  Ad generated revenue on the sidebar of the client and hooking this up to Microsoft's various social and gaming applications seems more likely, which implies that shutting down Skype is the last thing on their mind.

Hopefully it will be fixed in time for This Week in Computer Hardware.

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"VOICE OVER IP (VoIP) and chat service Skype has crashed throughout the world and continues to crash on login, leading many to suspect that its recent acquisition by Microsoft is a definite disaster.

The service began to crash around 12:15pm UK time, kicking people offline and freezing when they tried to log back in again. Other users who remained online had difficulties making calls. Restarting your PC or reinstalling Skype has no effect, as the problem is clearly on Skype's end."

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Source: The Inquirer

Your company lost $7 million last year? Can we buy it for $8.5 billion? Microsoft buys Skype.

Subject: General Tech | May 10, 2011 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: ballmer, microsoft, boomtown, skype, purchase, billion

The rumour mill really dropped the ball on this one, as just a few hours ago it was Facebook that everyone was muttering would one day buy Skype.  Turns out that in just a few hours the new rumour that Microsoft was going to buy Skype for $7 billion became a reality at an $8.5 billion price tag. 

Skype lost $7 million dollars last year, though that number seems rather small compared to their overall balance sheet to date which puts them $686 million in the hole.  As All Things Digital is quick to point out, that is slightly less than what Microsoft Online Services Division lost last Quarter, proving all things are relative even at very high amounts of dollars.

On the plus side, Microsoft gets its hands on Skype's 763 million registered users, about twice as many as there are MSN users and significantly more that there are XBox Live users.  Toss in the TechNet people and you still have nowhere near the user pool that Skype brings.  That huge increase in the number of people Microsoft can reach possibly gives them the ability to recoup the money they spent to buy them.  Consider that 8 million users pay actual money for their Skype account, which Wired considers as at least a hint of Microsoft's strategy.

Most PC users who already use Windows, such as those at Ars Technica, are scratching their heads over the purchase while Linux users at Slashdot are very concerned about continuing support for the Skype Linux Client.

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"The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Microsoft–in what would be its most aggressive acquisition in the digital space–was zeroing in on buying Skype for $8.5 billion all in with an assumption of the Luxembourg-based company’s debt.

Sources told BoomTown tonight that the deal for the online telephony and video communications giant is actually done and will be announced early tomorrow morning."

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