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Microsoft To Replace Windows Live Messenger With Skype

Microsoft To Replace Windows Live Messenger With Skype

Microsoft has announced that it plans to retire Windows Live Messenger in favour of Skype, according to a blog post on the latter’s website. The software giant had acquired the popular VoIP service last year and a merger of the two IM clients was therefore imminent. It was reported earlier that around 80% of all IMs sent over Skype are being handled by Messenger backend. It is likely that the VoIP feature of Skype, which is something that Microsoft’s IM client missed, enabled the former to retain its existence, rather than being swallowed by the latter. The plan is to slowly phase out Live Messenger over the next few months with a complete phase-out happening by March 2013, with the notable exclusion of mainland China. Users of the IM client can move to Skype during this period using the same login credentials.

Launched on the 22nd of July, 1999, Windows Live Messenger enjoyed pole position for a number of years when only a few competitors such as Yahoo! Messenger were around. Voice and video calling between computers was one of its main attractions in addition to text chat. However, the entry of Google‘s client and browser-based IM service managed to sweep away a sizeable number of users soon after it was launched a little over seven years ago. Probably to counter this new kid on the block, Microsoft and Yahoo! launched interoperability between their two IM clients to allow users from one service to chat using the other’s client. Facebook Chat interoperability has also been supported since September, 2010. Nevertheless, it seems that the IM client finally decided that now is a good time to take a bow. Windows Live Messenger was reported to have over 330 million active users in 2009, although the number is now dropped to somewhere around 100 million.

How many of you use Windows Live Messenger as your primary IM client? Do you think this is a good move by Microsoft?
Microsoft To Replace Windows Live Messenger With Skype

Top 50 Most Visited US Sites List

ComScore released the list of the 50 most visited sites in the US as part of its report on monthly analysis of U.S. web properties activity. ComScore is the leader in estimating World Wide Web traffic to top websites and releases monthly reports on the most visited websites across the world.

The 50 most visited US sites list (PDF download) is available from their website and it shows the following top websites.

top websites in US

It comes as no surprise that Google and it’s related web properties are the most visited websites in the US. Facebook holds an enviable fourth most visited position, even more than sites like Amazon, Apple and eBay, and far far above Twitter and LinkedIn. MySpace still seems to be holding in the top 50 list (the new MySpace might make it promising), while the surprise new entry is Pinterest, which shows the growing popularity and traffic of this new social media service.

I hope you have already seen the Google’s 1000 most-visited sites on the web. Which website you expected to feature on this list and it’s not there?

Firefox turns 8 today

Firefox 8

Eight years ago, when I first saw Firefox posted on a message board that I frequented, I thought it was so cool that someone was trying to make a new browser. The post was flamed to death with all sorts of negative comments about how Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was the best there was and Mozilla was never going to be able to compete with Microsoft. Fortunately, Mozilla didn’t see comments like that and decide to throw in the towel. Because of that, the Firefox team at Mozilla are able to celebrate 8 years of development today.

If you take a look back, you can absolutely see how Firefox was directly responsible for some of the major changes in how we use the web today. Firefox made a name for itself by being something that was so much better than Internet Explorer at the time that the only reason IE was used was to install Firefox. The team has even gone so far recently as to poke fun back at Internet Explorer 10‘s release. The browser has grown with the intention of delivering a web experience that “put people first” as they put it. Now, 8 years later, Firefox has absolutely become a staple in the web ecosystem.

Firefox now exists on Windows, it’s a default browser in many versions of Linux, OSX, and now Android as well. On each platform they support, Mozilla strives to offer the open web standards and practices that the company has dedicated themselves to from the beginning. With a global browser market share that hovers just behind Internet Explorer by a few percent, it’s not hard to imagine that Firefox will be around for a long time. Happy Birthday Firefox!

Apple vs Samsung Judge to Investigate Alleged Jury Foreman Misconduct

Samsung’s going to get its day in court once more, and yet again, more than a billion dollars potentially hang in the balance. Yesterday, Judge Lucy Koh agreed to “consider the questions” posed about Apple vs Samsung jury foreman Velvin Hogan’s alleged misconduct as part of a wider-reaching December 6th hearing.

The South Korean company claims Hogan failed to disclose that Seagate, Hogan’s former employer and a key Samsung business partner, slapped him with a lawsuit following a personal bankruptcy back in 1993. Samsung says the lack of disclosure prevented its lawyers from probing Hogan about potential biases and conflicting interests.

Hogan says that jury candidates were only asked for hard details about litigation that occurred in the past decade, not twenty years gone. He finds Samsung’s supposed ignorance of his past hard to swallow and publicly posed the question as to whether or not the Korean company allowed him on the jury as some sort of contingency plan: a possible way to gain a mistrial if things went badly in court.

CNET notes that Hogan in fact mentioned being embroiled in past litigation as part of the jury screening process, even if he didn’t mention Seagate specifically. The lawyers consulted by that website said that Koh is highly unlikely to overturn the $1 billion verdict because of Hogan’s actions.

Apple’s lawyers will be forced to turn over the information they had about Hogan as part of Koh’s inquiry.

8 worst Windows 8 irritations (and how to fix them)

Windows 8, I want to love you, but your annoying quirks keep bringing me down.

After spending more than a year conquering the operating system’s overhauled (and nonintuitive) interface in its various prerelease iterations, I’ve now entered a second stage of frustration: I find myself cursing at Windows 8’s major changes less and less, but shaking my fist and swearing like a sailor at its little irritations more and more.

Beyond its polished, tile-based surface, Microsoft’s new operating system plays host to a legion of smaller annoyances—a cornucopia of quirks that will leave you seething long after you get the hang of all the new gesture controls and schizophrenic system options. Some of the problems are whoppers. Others are mere nitpicks that result from a lifetime of traditional Windows use. But many of these problems can be fixed, with one major exception. Read on! Continue reading

Three simple rules for buying a new laptop

This is the time of year when friends, family members, casual acquaintances, and people in the street stop me to ask about buying a new PC.

“What should I get?” they ask. “What do I need?” Also heard with increasing frequency: “Should I get a tablet instead of a laptop?”

Loaded questions, to be sure, but not difficult ones. A tablet can take the place of a laptop if all you do is browse the Web and read e-mail. If you need to get any serious work done, whether for school or business or just everyday life, a laptop is still the smarter choice. It gives you a keyboard, a bigger screen, copious amounts of storage, and compatibility with all your favorite software.

So, what kind of laptop should you get, and with what specs and features? I can make this really simple:

1. Get at least 4GB of RAM.

That’s “four gigabytes of memory” for those who don’t speak PC. Anything less and your system will run like molasses–something to keep in mind as Black Friday deals roll around. Many “doorbuster” laptops will have only 2GB of RAM, and that’s just not enough.

2. If you can afford it, get a system with an SSD.

That’s short for “solid-state drive,” which has no moving parts and therefore runs faster, generates less heat, and consumes less power than a traditional hard drive. You’ll pay a premium for an SSD and end up with less storage space, but how much do you really need? Most folks I know rarely fill up more than 100GB.

Indeed, although a 128GB SSD may seem like a downgrade compared with, say, a 500GB hard drive, the speed benefits alone are worth the extra money.

3. Try before you buy.

Although brick-and-mortar tech stores are few and far between these days, there are still places where you can go and browse laptops in person. And that’s something you should definitely do.

Sure, you can shop online based on specs and price, but you owe it to yourself to test-drive the keyboard. And the trackpad. Make sure they’re comfortable and responsive. Likewise, check the screen: is it glossy and therefore heavy on the glare? Whenever possible, try to lay hands on a laptop before buying it.

One more “rule.”

Notice that I didn’t mention the procesor. Unless you’re doing heavy-duty video editing or playing a lot of graphics-intensive games, the processor just isn’t the big factor it used to be. They’re all pretty fast nowadays.

As for brands, I have similar feelings: they’re all pretty good nowadays. That said, it’s always a good idea to do your homework, starting with PC World’s Reliability and Satisfaction surveys.

What other advice would you give to someone shopping for a new laptop?

Nikon D600 Teardown

 Nikon D600 CMOS sensor, taken to pieces (various filters)

TeardownTeardownTeardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

Featured GuideFeatured GuideThis guide has been found to be exceptionally cool by the iFixit staff.


We like cameras. We also like taking cameras apart. Today, we vivisect the D600.

With the release of a “budget” full-frame camera, Nikon hopes to lure the mid-level/Prosumer camera junkies into taking the plunge into full-frame wonderland. Unfortunately, a “budget” full-frame camera still means a price tag of $2,099, so it’s not exactly a bargain.

Can’t get enough of the sweet, sultry taste of teardowns? Continue reading

Intel launches 8-core Itanium 9500, teases Xeon E7-linked Kittson

Intel launches Poulsonbased Itanium 9500, teases Xeon E7linked Kittson

Intel’s Itanium processor launches are few and far between given that only so many need its specialized grunt, but that just makes any refresh so much larger — and its new Itanium 9500 certainly exemplifies that kind of jump. The chip centers around much more up-to-date, 32-nanometer Poulson architecture that doubles the cores to eight, hikes the interconnect speeds and supports as much as 2TB of RAM for very (very, very) large tasks. With the help of an error-resistant buffer, Intel sees the 9500 being as much as 2.4 times faster as the Tukwila-era design it’s replacing. The new Itanium also ramps the clock speeds to a relatively brisk 1.73GHz to 2.53GHz, although there will be definite costs for server builders wanting to move up: the shipping roster starts at $1,350 per chip in bulk and climbs to an eye-watering $4,650 for the fastest example.

Anyone worried that Poulson might be the end of the road for Intel’s EPIC-based platform will also be glad to get a brief reminder that Itanium will soldier on. The next iteration, nicknamed Kittson, will be framed around a modular design that shares traces of silicon and the processor socket with the more familiar Xeon E7. Intel casts it as a pragmatic step that narrows its server-oriented processors down to a common motherboard and should be cheaper to make. It’s likely that we’ll have to be very patient for more details on Kittson knowing the long intervals between Itanium revamps, but fence-sitting IT pros may just be glad that they won’t have to consider jumping ship for awhile yet.