Online services

Microsoft's Messenger service to live on

Microsoft's Messenger service will survive despite the upcoming death of the Live Messenger client.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it would retire its Live Messenger client on March 15, forcing users to move to Skype for their IM needs. Since buying Skype in 2011, Microsoft has continually tweaked the VoIP service, which now supports Microsoft account logins and integrates with Outlook.

But the Messenger service that supports Live Messenger isn't going away, at least not anytime soon, according to blog site ArsTechnica.

Messenger uses two network protocols that allow third parties applications to tap into its service. … Read more

Mobile, Hotmail users hit by access troubles

An undetermined number of mobile users of Microsoft's Hotmail and have been unable to access the service for the past several days.

The problem is affecting iPhone, iPad, and Android phone users, according to posts on the Microsoft Answers forum. It also, according to some, is affecting some Windows Phone and Surface RT users, as well.

The problem seems to stem from issues with Exchange ActiveSync, the Microsoft protocol for accessing Exchange Server natively from mobile devices.

On January 10, I asked Microsoft for an update on the issue, which still seems only partially resolved. A representative … Read more

Microsoft beefs up SkyDrive with more features

Microsoft has kicked off 2013 with a few helpful additions to your SkyDrive Web site.

As detailed in yesterday's Inside SkyDrive blog, you can now move files within SkyDrive to other folders by dragging and dropping them to a specific location on the breadcrumb bar.

For example, to move a file from your Documents subfolder to the root of your SkyDrive storage, simply drag the file onto the SkyDrive breadcrumb with your name. Previously, you'd have to right-click on a file, select the Move to command, and then choose a target folder in order to move it.

Those … Read more

Microsoft updates Bing Desktop app: Oh yeah, Windows XP

Windows XP users can now take advantage of Microsoft's Bing Desktop app to run searches without leaving their desktop.

Released yesterday, Bing Desktop version 1.1 supports all versions of Windows starting with XP. The latest flavor also lets you set your desktop wallpaper to match the image displayed by the Bing home page. You can cycle through the past nine days worth of images, according to Microsoft. And as the Bing home page image changes each day, so will your desktop wallpaper.

The Bing Desktop sports a search bar at the top so that you can enter a … Read more

Skype fixes e-mail security flaw

Skype has resolved a nasty e-mail and password security bug and reinstated its password reset page.

Revealed by Skype earlier today, the vulnerability allowed someone to create a Skype account using the same e-mail address as that of the intended victim. That person was then able to reset the password for all accounts associated with that address, thereby locking out the account owner from Skype.

As a precaution, Skype earlier today took down its password reset page to prevent hackers from taking advantage of the flaw. But the company managed to resolve the security hole not long after announcing it, … Read more

Skype disables password resets due to e-mail security flaw

Update, 10:25 a.m. PT: Skype has since resolved the security issue and reinstated the password reset page.

Skype is investigating a security problem that allows someone to take over a user's account by resetting the account password.

The VoIP service provider best known for video calls confirmed in its blog today that it has taken down its password reset page as it probes the issue:

We have had reports of a new security vulnerability issue. As a precautionary step we have temporarily disabled password reset as we continue to investigate the issue further. We apologize for the … Read more

Microsoft releases SmartGlass app to Google Play store

Microsoft's big week continued today with a new app release. Xbox SmartGlass for Android hit the Google Play store this afternoon.

SmartGlass offers a slick second-screen experience for Xbox 360. Developers of Xbox apps can use SmartGlass to let users interact with TV shows, movies, sports and games. The technology, which was first shown off at E3 this year, will eventually turn smartphones and tablets into second screens and controllers for a variety of games and apps.

Some key features:

Navigate your Xbox 360 with swipe and tap Use your phone's keyboard to type to your … Read more

Microsoft SmartGlass connects your Xbox to your mobile device

Your smartphone or tablet will soon be able to control and display games and movies from an Xbox 360.

Set to be released along with Windows 8 this Friday, Microsoft's new SmartGlass app is designed to bridge the gap between the Xbox and mobile devices.

The free app will naturally support Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets and PCs as well as Windows Phone 8 devices. But it will also run on iOS and Android devices.

As described in a blog by Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing officer for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Division, Xbox 360 owners will be able … Read more

Microsoft is now your 'devices and services' company

Microsoft really wants to make sure its shareholders, customers, partners, and competitors realize it's not just a big software company anymore.

In an October 9 letter to shareholders, part of Microsoft's just-released fiscal 2012 annual report, CEO Steve Ballmer repeated his new "devices and services company" mantra to drive it home.

Ballmer hasn't (yet) chanted "devices, devices, devices" in front of any public or private audiences (that we know of, at least) in the way he once, in 2006, infamously chanted "developers, developers, developers."

But he told The Seattle Times a … Read more

IE keeps firm grip on half of the browser market

Microsoft's Internet Explorer still grabs more than half of all traffic among browsers, at least as viewed by Web tracker Net Applications.

Leading the desktop browser market for September, IE took home a share of 53.6 percent. That left Firefox in second place with 20 percent and Chrome in third with almost 19 percent.

Trailing the top five were Apple's Safari with 5.2 percent and Opera with just 1.6 percent.

IE's lead has dipped over the past few years. A high of 79 percent in November 2007 fell to a low of 51.8 … Read more