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Bing deepens Facebook integration, connecting searchers with friends

Microsoft is making yet another attempt to deeply integrate Facebook into its Bing search experience as a way to gain some ground on archrival Google.

Today, the software giant introduced an update to Bing, adding a new column to search results that features Facebook friends who might have some insight into the query. The sidebar, set off from the white Bing page in gray, lists friends who, for example, might be able to help with a search about diving spots in Costa Rica because they shared photos from a trip to that country on Facebook.

"This notion of a … Read more

How Mark Zuckerberg inspired a more social Bing

Ten developers from Microsoft flew into San Francisco in late February last year to bang away on code with ten counterparts from Facebook.

This hackathon, something the two partners do with some regularity, had a special guest as the day wore on: Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. In one of the dozens of generic conference room that dot Microsoft's Mountain View campus, the crew spent hours swapping ideas and sharing code, coming up with new ways to integrate Facebook's social network into Bing's search technology. Near the end of the day, Zuckerberg talked to the … Read more

Microsoft to drop Windows Live branding with Windows 8

Microsoft's perpetually confusing Windows Live branding is about to get a long-overdue clean up.

Microsoft is doing away with the Windows Live brand, according to a May 2 post on the Building Windows 8 blog. The Windows Live Essentials name for the collection of Windows add-ons -- including Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Writer, Live Mesh and Family Safety -- is going away. Other Windows Live services which weren't part of Live Essentials -- like Hotmail and SkyDrive -- also are getting simpler names.

Here's Microsoft's handy chart explaining the new names:

A bunch of the … Read more

Dear Microsoft: Please don't take away my Live Mesh

Microsoft giveth, and it taketh away. At least, that's how it looks with the latest incarnation of the SkyDrive online storage service.

Unveiled this week, the preview of the new SkyDrive kicks in several improvements over its Web-based predecessor.

The old SkyDrive Web site separates documents that you upload from those synced via Live Mesh, creating a limited and clumsy workspace. The new preview edition ensures that all files are stored in one place, whether they're uploaded or synced from your PC.

You can now view and open all your SkyDrive files directly from Windows Explorer, eliminating the … Read more

Microsoft hiring points to Web-based Skype service

Microsoft is hiring staff "to help us bring Skype experience on to the Web," a move that could help people use the Internet-based video and audio chat service more broadly.

Skype's VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) service today requires a native app to run on various operating systems. A browser-based version, though, could bring the service to OSes that aren't supported, such as Google's Chrome OS; make it easier for people to use Skype on a machine for which they don't have installation privileges; and potentially integrate with other Web-based services.

Microsoft revealed the … Read more

Office Web Apps refresh likely on Microsoft's menu

Microsoft Office users can expect to see a new version of Office Web Apps this summer, according to Windows Live enthusiast site LiveSide.net.

The cloud-based suite will reportedly be available in "preview" mode at the same time that Office 15 for the desktop is released as a beta. Users will be able to try the latest features of Office Web Apps to create or edit documents stored through SkyDrive or Hotmail, LiveSide added.

Little else is known or at least revealed about a new version of Office Web Apps. Microsoft did not immediately answer CNET's request … Read more

Microsoft SkyDrive aiming to outcloud iCloud

Microsoft is targeting a host of improvements for SkyDrive, potentially giving iCloud and similar services some healthy competition.

The next version, dubbed SkyDrive Wave 5, could lead the way, with several features revealed by blogging site LiveSide.net.

Tipped off about "new features that are said to be coming to SkyDrive soon," the site detailed such items as support for the OpenDocument format and the ability to store and manage BitLocker recovery keys on SkyDrive.

A new URL-shortening service will provide links to your shared files, while you'll be able to share those files directly with your … Read more

Microsoft improves SkyDrive's sharing and file management

Microsoft SkyDrive users will find some much-needed enhancements the next time they log onto the cloud-based storage site.

As part of an ongoing effort to improve SkyDrive, Microsoft yesterday revealed a series of tweaks designed to make the site more efficient and user-friendly. Described in a blog posted yesterday and seen in the video below, the changes focus mostly on sharing and file management.

Admitting that sharing folders and files on SkyDrive has been difficult and unreliable in the past, Microsoft has simplified the ability to share. Instead of setting up specific folders for sharing, you can now share individual … Read more

Casey Anthony tops Osama Bin Laden on Bing Search

More proof that Americans are a celebrity-obsessed culture: the Casey Anthony trial beat out Osama Bin Laden's death as the most searched news story of 2011 on Bing.

With a full month left in 2011, Microsoft's Bing released its annual top searches of the year list. As ever, it illustrates how much Americans can't get enough of the our celebs.

Some might take solace in the fact that Kim Kardashian dropped from No. 1 in 2010 to No. 2 in 2011 as the most searched person on Bing. Then again, her replacement at the top of the … Read more

Microsoft to beef up SkyDrive following user complaints

Microsoft's SkyDrive online service has been too limited and complex for many users, admits the company, but improvements are on the way.

Relying more on the cloud to store, sync, and manage both files and devices, people have increasingly run into obstacles with today's online services, says Omar Shahine, a group program manager for SkyDrive, in a recent blog. Though Shahine pointed to limitations in several cloud services, such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and iCloud, he didn't spare his company's own products.

"We sometimes hear from customers who want to use SkyDrive in key scenarios … Read more