The Tech News Blog

August 15, 2013

Skype to Come Pre-Installed on Windows 8.1

Skype on Windows 8.1

Microsoft today confirmed that Skype will be integrated into the Start button on Windows 8.1.

"With Windows 8.1, simply log in and you're ready to go," Skype said in a blog post. "By simply searching and adding contacts to your People list in Skype – the people you care about are at your fingertips, and you are in control of who those contacts are."

In its own blog post, Microsoft said that "connecting and sharing should be a seamless part of every Windows experience."

On Windows 8, Skype users have to download the VoIP app via the Windows Store. With the Windows 8.1 update - expected in mid-October - it will come pre-loaded with the operating system.

The updated OS will also include the return of the start button, which will appear whenever you move your mouse to the bottom right of the screen in tiled (or "Metro") mode and will persist on the taskbar when in desktop mode.

In a recent leak of a reportedly "near final" version of Windows 8.1, The Verge found that Skype replaced the Messaging app, which draws on Windows Live Messenger. Earlier this year, however, Microsoft started transitioning Windows Live Messenger users to Skype. "We're confident that Skype provides a better experience and even stronger network – today and even more so in the future, especially with the addition of the Messenger network," Microsoft said last year.

December 26, 2012

Google Voice Calls Remain Free in 2013

Google Voice Gmail

If you're a fan of free voice calling, Google's got your back—the search giant said Wednesday that free Google Voice calls via Gmail will be extended through 2013.

Gmail-powered voice and video chat, available for download from Google, will remain free in the U.S. and Canada through next year, the company said on its official blog.

Gmail users in several other countries can also use Google Voice to make international voice calls at heavily discounted rates, Google said. Callers in India, for example, get a 2-cents-per-minute rate, compared with 9-cents-per-minute from the country's leading Internet telephony provider, according to the search giant.

Other countries serviced by Google Voice getting half-price or better on rates from local Internet telephony providers include France (10-cents-per-minute), Germany (10-cents-per-minute), and Mexico (15-cents-per-minute).

International callers will want to keep in mind that Google adds local tariffs like value-added taxes to the price of Google Voice purchases made online.

As noted, Google Voice is "not without flaws," like service disruptions and occasional poor transmission quality, which, when added up, probably explain why the company is maintaining free and low prices for the service for another year.

April 30, 2012

Skype Vulnerability Allows IP Snooping

Microsoft is reportedly looking into a vulnerability that allows a third party to determine the IP address of a member using the Skype network.

Last week, someone posted a an exploit of that vulnerability within the Skype network on Pastebin, providing details of how to download a modified or patched version of Skype 5.5 that would allow the exploit to be run.

Separately, Skype also released a small update to its iOS app that allowed the user to move his preview video window, and that the app would automatically restart if it crashed. French iOS hacker b0zon also claimed Monday morning that the Skype iOS update also automatically detects an iPhone that has been "jailbroken," but did not disclose what happened then.

According to the Pastebin instructions, the attacker could turn on the file creation for a debugging log, then "add a Skype contact" without actually sending an invitation. Viewing the virtual business card (or vCard) of a Skype user will generate the IP address of the target within the log file, according to the Pastebin instructions.

"The record will be like this for real user ip: -r195.100.213.25:31101 And like this for user internal network card ip: -l172.10.5.17" the Pastebin instructions say.

From there, the attacker can use a whois server to gain more information about the target, the Pastebin instructions concluded.

January 18, 2012

eBay Profits Soar 254 Percent, Boosted by Skype

Ebay reported a 254 percent increase in profits for the company's fourth quarter, thanks to its sale of VOIP service Skype to Microsoft.

One-times gains aside, however, eBay also reported a healthy 15 percent increase in net income when considered from a non-GAAP perspective. Revenue rose by 35 percent, thanks to growth in eBay's Payments and Marketplaces businesses, which includes its auction business.

Ebay reported net income of $1.98 billion on revenue of $3.38 billion, an increase of 254 percent and 35 percent, from the same quarter a year ago. Skype officially became part of Microsoft in October as part of a $8.5 billion deal.

Although eBay was founded upon its auction business, the site has evolved into a one-stop payments provider, with acquisitions like RedLaser helping find real-world goods on online sites, and MyLo providing the opposite service: tracking the physical inventory of local stores. Meanwhile, services like PayPal have consistently delivered profits as eBay's Marketplaces business has wavered.

October 14, 2011

Skype Now Officially Part of Microsoft

Microsoft formally closed its acquisition of Skype on Friday, meaning the video-chat service is now a division of the software giant.

In a blog post about the deal, Skype chief Tony Bates said the goal is to "transform communications," though he reiterated that Skype will remain available on non-Microsoft platforms, like Mac, Android, and Apple iOS.

Microsoft and Skype complement one another because both are "disruptive, innovative, software-oriented companies," Bates said in a video message. "The world I see in a few years is really one of complete, pervasive video communications, something that's across all parts of your life," he said.

May 10, 2011

Microsoft Buys Skype for $8.5B

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier tonight that Microsoft was in talks to purchase VoIP company Skype for between $7 billion and $8 billion. Kara Swisher just recently confirmed the acquisition in her BoomTown column, starting that the deal is worth an estimated $8.5 billion.

Earlier reports stated that Google and Facebook were duking it out to get a piece of Skype, but in the end Steve Ballmer and Microsoft's huge chest of cash put an end to those discussions. The earlier reports also pointed to a Skype valuation of $3 to $4 billion, so Microsoft's $8.5 billion purchase price hopefully will bring a hefty ROI.

For those keeping score, eBay bought Skype in 2005 for $2.5 billion. Four years later, eBay sold a 65% stake in the company for $1.9 billion.