Chat and e-mail

Snowden revelations spook Hightail's cloud-computing customers

PARIS -- The revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about governmental spying are gumming up the business of cloud computing.

That's the opinion of Brad Garlinghouse, chief executive of Hightail, whose business is helping companies share and track documents and their employees to collaborate with the aid of cloud-based storage. Doing business now has new complications for customers concerned about government snooping and the protection of their own data.

"The Snowden effect has extended the sales cycle for non-US companies looking at doing business with US companies," he said Wednesday in an interview at the LeWeb … Read more

New Gmail look blings up your inbox with tabs

Google continues to revamp the appearance of many of its services, this time turning its redecorating eye on Gmail.

The company unveiled on Wednesday the new look and automatic labels for Gmail on the Web, as well as in Gmail's Android and iOS apps.

The new default categories, based on Gmail's existing Label system, are Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. They appear as large tabs on the Gmail site, easy to use for touch screens and fully customizable. You can also drag-and-drop messages between them, and Google will automatically "learn" how you want them filtered. … Read more

Kwaga's AddMe aims to inject useful life into e-mail signatures

Expanding its technology for linking e-mail signature information and address books, startup Kwaga announced a new service that lets people turn those signatures into active information.

The Parisian company already offers a service called that scours e-mails for contact information then copies it into Gmail, Notes, or Outlook address books. That's handy for people receiving e-mail, but now Kwaga added a new service called AddMe that's for people sending e-mail.

To use AddMe, people include a hyperlinked text that says "[+] Add me to your address book" in their signature blocks. When a recipient clicks … Read more

Google's Quickoffice comes to Android, iPhone

Some competitors would figure if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. But when it comes to Google's strategy for competing with Microsoft's productivity suite, the company is trying to do both in a way.

Last night, Google released Android and iPhone versions of its Quickoffice software for handling Office files. The software, which lets people view and edit Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files, runs natively on various devices the way Office does, not in the cloud the way Google Apps does.

The software, available to customers of the company's Google Apps for Business service, is on … Read more

Startup hopes Web tech will mean faster foothold for IM

Developers these days are obsessed with mobile apps, but a startup called hopes the Web will be its entree into a new instant-messaging market.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is using various Web standards to try to build an IM service that works in people's browsers. The new generation of Web technologies for Web apps is often called HTML5. Although the company offers mobile apps for iOS and Android, too, the Web approach can be convenient since people can launch it just by pointing a browser at a Web site.

And indeed, that's how it … Read more

Microsoft updates Windows 8 Mail, Calendar, and People apps

Microsoft has tweaked its Mail, Calendar, and People apps for Windows 8 and RT users with some much-need improvements.

The three core apps, which are bundled together, received some long overdue tweaks last night that make them a bit more user-friendly. But along with those improvements comes one negative: the Calendar app will no longer sync with Google Calendar appointments.

On the plus side, the Mail app now offers full folder management. You can create, rename, and delete folders and subfolders to better organize your e-mail.

Managing individual messages is also much easier. You can select multiple e-mails to delete, … Read more

Google looks to unify chat services under 'Babble'

Google's messaging platforms might all be rolled into one new platform, according to a recent report.

The search giant is planning to combine its many messaging platforms, including Google Talk, Hangout, Voice, and Messenger, into one service it'll call Babble, is reporting, citing "multiple sources" who claim to have knowledge of its plans. The move is designed to make it easier for Google's users to communicate and also reduce the sheer number of places the search giant needs to work to keep communication going.

Google has long suffered from a communication issue. There … Read more

Microsoft pins Hotmail, Outlook outage on hot data center

Outlook and Hotmail users can blame the recent outage on an overheated data center, Microsoft says.

On Tuesday at around 1:30 p.m. PT, the two online e-mail services suffered a service disruption, rendering them inaccessible to many users. Microsoft started to bring them back online the rest of the day and on into Wednesday. But access wasn't fully restored until 5:43 a.m. yesterday, according to the company.

Microsoft's status page confirmed that the problem was repaired but offered no details as to the cause. Now the company has revealed the source of the glitch … Read more

Outlook, Hotmail are back up following lengthy outage

Outlook and Hotmail are up and running once again.

A problem had rendered both online e-mail services inaccessible to many users since yesterday. But Microsoft's status page now shows both of them are back in business.

The page gives no details as to what caused the outages or how they were resolved.

Hotmail, Outlook, and SkyDrive were all hit by downtime yesterday, starting at around 2:30 p.m. PT. Many users had taken to Twitter to report the outage and express their frustration over the inability to access their e-mail.

Microsoft's status page shows that the problem … Read more

Best video tech for Web chat? Showdown set for March

After a fractious false start last year, Web standards makers will reconvene in Orlando, Fla., this March to try to settle a debate about the best video technology for browser-based chatting.

The Web-based chat standard, which holds the potential to bring Skype-like audio and video communication services to the Web, is called WebRTC. The debate about it centers on how best to compress video: the widely used industry-standard H.264 codec, or Google's royalty-free, open-source VP8 codec?

The discussion took some surprising twists and turns late last year -- including Google's last-minute action to postpone discussion because of … Read more