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February 24 2014


February 13 2014

Microsoft Rolls Out Smarter Chat Sync For Skype
skype_syncLast October, Microsoft’s Skype promised a number of updates to its chat message syncing, and it looks like the service has now delivered on these promises. For the longest time, chat syncing had been an annoying issue on Skype, as the mobile app would often send you a bunch of alerts for messages you’d already read on your desktop. The Skype team has announced that those days are over. Skype chats are now synced across all your Skype-enabled devices. Besides hopefully clearing up all of those unnecessary alerts, this means you should be able to easily scroll back on your mobile phone to see the chats you had on your laptop earlier that day. With this update, Skype is also now ensuring that your messages get delivered to your contacts even if you send them while they’re offline. That’s often been an issue with using Skype chats across different time zones. If your contact wasn’t online when you sent the message and then you turned off your computer, chances were your chats would only arrive after you turned your computer back on. Now, Skype says, “you can have peace of mind” that these messages will arrive. These new features are now available to all Skype users. As Microsoft has been quietly rolling these updates out over the last few weeks, there’s a good chance that you’ve already noticed some changes. Looking ahead, the Skype team plans a number of other enhancements to the chat experience. The most important is ensuring that you only get notifications on the device you are actively using. Say you are on your desktop and using Skype there, soon, you will not get additional notifications on your tablet and phone as well. In addition, the team plans to ensure that your Favorites list will sync across all your Skype-enabled devices.
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December 06 2013

Skype’s Suspicious Absence From Microsoft’s Anti-NSA Promises
wheres-skypeMicrosoft’s public relations department was on encrypted cloud nine yesterday, riding a wave of high-five press reports for their swift action to protect consumers from National Security Agency surveillance. “We are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data,” raged Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, writing about revelations that U.S. and British spy agencies are secretly tapping the data flows of top tech firms. Following Yahoo and Google, Microsoft will begin encrypting data in 2014, including services like Outlook, Office, SkyDrive and their signature operating system, Windows. Noticeably absent from their victory lap was any mention of Skype, the wildly popular communication service that has been a favorite target for surveillance. “I agree that Skype’s absence here is extremely interesting and concerning,” wrote the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl to us in an email. “Microsoft, as the owner of Skype, has totally failed to be transparent about this and it’s not surprising that users and security experts come to believe that it has something to hide.” A spokesman for Microsoft says that the announcement does “not exclude” Skype; it just wasn’t mentioned because they didn’t feel the need to mention all products. That’s an odd excuse, given that the communication has been headline news for many NSA stories. The Center for Democracy and Technology’s Joe Hall explained to me in an email that real transparency from Microsoft means “demonstrating that independent review from folks respected by the security community have examined Skype’s cryptographic methods and implementation, and said good things about it.” So far, that hasn’t happened. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to address these concerns. “I think Microsoft must be very transparent to make encryption in Skype meaningful,” Hall told me. “That means detailing the way Skype works technically, and demonstrating that independent review from folks respected by the security community have examined Skype’s cryptographic methods and implementation and said good things about it. Hopefully then anointing it as robustly ‘end-to-end.’ (Meaning only the parties at the ends of the conversation have access to the communication).” The real reason Skype likely won’t offer spy-resistant (end-to-end) encryption is because digital communications carry delicious amounts of user data. The who, what, where, and when of our phone calls helps Skype target feature upgrades and advertising opportunities. Lucrative user data is partly why Skype is more than happy to give its service away for free, while

October 04 2013

Skype Will Finally Start Syncing Chat Messages Across Devices
If you use Skype on your phone and desktop, you know how annoying its inability to effectively keep your chat message status in sync between different machines can be. After you start Skype on your phone, for example, it downloads and alerts you of all of the sometimes hundreds of messages you've received since you last shut it down, even though you've long seen them on your desktop. Sometimes, this also means the app will be unresponsive for quite a while (or just crash).

September 12 2013

Fring, An Early Mover In Mobile Messaging And Video Apps, Sells For $50M To Genband To Build Out WhatsApps For Carriers
Fring, an early startup that focused on creating group messaging and video calling apps for mobile phones, competing against the likes of Skype and WhatsApp, is calling it a day as an independent entity: it has been sold to Genband, a provider of services like IP gateways and billing and other services to mobile, fixed and cable carriers. Terms of the deal have not been officially disclosed, but we have heard from a source that the price was $50 million.

August 19 2013

Microsoft Launches Skype For In The US, UK, Germany, France, Brazil And Canada
Today Microsoft announced that Skype integration inside its email service is now live and out of preview in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Brazil and Canada. The combination of Skype and brings together two of Microsoft's most popular services, and provides the email service with a material competitive edge in its war with Google's Gmail. has enjoyed a quickly growing user base that expanded organically, and also via a massive infusion of Hotmail users, who Microsoft shunted over as it shuttered the older service in favor of the new.
Tags: TC skype

August 18 2013

The Internet: We're Doing It Wrong
This week Facebook's ban-bot went berserk; Github went down; and all Google services collapsed for a few minutes, taking 40% of the Internet with them. Just another week on the Internet, then. We love our centralized services, until they let us down. Bruce Sterling calls them "the Stacks": Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft. In his most recent (always riveting) State of the World conversation, he wrote: In 2012 it made less and less sense to talk about "the Internet," "the PC business," "telephones," "Silicon Valley," or "the media," and much more sense to just study Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. These big five American vertically organized silos are re-making the world in their image.

August 06 2013

Skype Updates Its Windows Phone App, Finally Adding The Ability To Filter Contacts
Today Microsoft updated its mobile application for Windows Phone, bringing new features that should improve the quality of life for mobile users of the service. The key update is that Windows Phone and Skype contacts can be "split out" in the new version of the application. You can now see all your contacts, who is available now, and only your Skype contacts if you want.
Tags: TC skype

May 29 2013

Microsoft Announces Skype And Lync Interoperability With IM & Audio To Start, Video Soon
Microsoft announced today that two of its big-name communications services - consumer-facing Skype and enterprise-ready Lync - will now interoperate, meaning users can access their Lync contacts via Skype and vice versa, and then message them or place an audio call. Support for video calling and other features, as well as support for additional platforms, are still in the works.

May 21 2013

After Months Of Speculation, Microsoft Officially Reveals Skype For The Xbox One
Microsoft’s Don Mattrick pulled back the curtain on the Xbox One at a live event at the company’s Redmond campus, and it wasn’t long at all before the talk turned to software. One application in particular has been the subject of speculation for months, and SVP Yusuf Mehdi confirmed that Skype (which, if you recall, Microsoft acquired for $8.5 billion neatly two years ago) is part of the Xbox One experience. As you might imagine, the Xbox One Skype application allows users to participate in group video chats with their fellow users using the Kinect camera — so there are opportunities for a natural type of ongoing conversation, one that won’t require you to chat for thirty minutes and then disconnect. This could be an “always on” situation. You can answer a call by saying “Xbox, answer call” and then the video screen slides in from the right. Since the Xbox One aims to be your all-in-one “Home Entertainment System,” Skype is going to play a huge role in the overall experience. The demonstration showed a group Skype conversation happening while watching a video, with video quieting down a bit once the call is connected. Microsoft has always talked about being the hub of the living room, and it seems like the newly announced Xbox One is the device which brings its vision to reality. The game-changer with this Skype integration is that you can watch a television show or play a game while carrying on a conversation. This has been attempted, mostly as a “second screen experience,” but to make this a seamless reality is a huge step forward for Microsoft. Up until now, you were constrained to the functionality of a particular game supporting voice chat, but this gives you a more personal experience no matter what you’re doing on your Xbox.

April 27 2012

Skype Launches Ridiculous New Facebook App, “Humoticons”
Skype introduced a new Facebook app this morning, and before you get your hopes up, it's not some amazing new way to Skype from the browser plug-in free, or kick off multi-person video chat sessions right from the News Feed. Nope. The app is this goofy, ridiculous creation called "Skype Humoticons" which lets you use your webcam to post pictures of you mimicking Skype emoticons to Facebook. Uh-huh.
Tags: Social TC skype

April 16 2012

Microsoft Job Postings Reveal “Skype For Browsers” Project
A series of job postings from Microsoft hint at - well, actually they come out and state that - Microsoft intends to bring Skype to the web browser. The posts, which describe positions for software development engineers, mention that the Skype web app would be built (thankfully) using HTML5 and JavaScript, not Microsoft's own Silverlight or Adobe Flash, for example. The addition of a web-based version of Skype that works without plug-ins could provide a better user experience than today's Skype Facebook app currently offers, but it could also extend the browser to anyone with a modern web browser who wanted an alternative to running desktop software.

October 14 2011

Skype Officially Becomes A Microsoft Division As $8.5 Billion Deal Closes
Microsoft this morning announced that it has closed its $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype, a deal that was originally announced back in May. They even made an infographic to showcase the importance of the deal completion. /sarcasm

August 04 2011

Skype Adds Video Calling Support For 17 More Android Smartphones
At the end of June 2011, Skype added the ability to make one-to-one video calls over both WiFi and 3G connections to its Android application. However, very few handsets were supported at the time, but now the company has released an update that brings two-way video calling to 17 more smartphones, including the HTC Desire and Desire HD, the Samsung Galaxy S and S II and Sony Ericsson Xperia devices. As usual, you can download the updated Skype 2.1 for Android app from the Android Market or point your browser to from your phone.

July 19 2011


Dentsu To – Exclusively – Sell Display Ads For Skype In Japan

Marketing and advertising giant Dentsu has inked a deal (PDF) with Skype to offer display ads in Japan. Under the terms of the agreement, Dentsu will serve as the exclusive display advertising partner for Skype in Japan as of July 2011, at least for advertising campaigns that are not multi-national or multi-regional in nature.

In November 2010, Apple and Dentsu announced a partnership that made the latter responsible for selling iAds in Japan. Dentsu also works with Facebook and OpenX.

Dentsu will start selling Skype’s digital inventory, which will appear in the “Home” tab of Skype for Windows (version 5.1 and above) with immediate effect.

Dentsu and Skype stress that this is only the first phase of their relationship.

According to the two companies, Skype users in Japan spend an average of 2 hours per month on Skype Home. Overall, Skype boasts an average of 170 million monthly users worldwide and roughly 30 million concurrent users at peak times as of March 2011.

Ads on Skype Home are typically larger than a typical banner ad, and expand to twice its original size (and more interactive elements) upon clicking. Under the terms of the deal, the number of advertisers on Skype are limited to one per day.

The interactive ads for Skype’s Windows clients were rolled out in March 2010. Skype has also partnered with Meebo in the US, Ad2One in the UK, and Ströer Interactive in Germany to sell advertising in their respective markets.

Amazingly, Dentsu was originally founded back in 1901 (yes, that would be 110 years ago). It currently has close to 20,000 employees worldwide servicing some 6,000 clients.

The company occasionally invests in American companies through its subsidiary cci; they’ve backed mobile ad network operator JumpTap and online video company Brightcove, for example.

Tags: TC dentsu skype

July 15 2011


Just When You Thought It Was Safe: Skype Vulnerabilities Emerge

Silly hackers are always trying to ruin the Internet and they have found yet another target in the form of popular VOIP software Skype. According to the sweetest text security report ever, linked from h-online’s recap:

“Skype suffers from a persistent Cross-Site Scripting vulnerability due to a lack
of input validation and output sanitization of the ‘mobile phone’ profile entry.
Other input fields may also be affected.”

I love that—output sanitization. Basically what this means is that an attacker can embed JavaScript in the mobile phone field of his or her profile description. Skype doesn’t filter this field which means this JavaScript can be executed when a contact of the attacker logs in. From there, all kinds of bad things can happen like account access or even system level access. According to Levent Kayan, the current version of Skype is affected (ver. ) and Skype is aware of the issue and should have a patch available next week. Skype is downplaying the issue a bit noting that “the attacker must appear in the victim’s list of frequent contacts” in order to take advantage of the security issue.

What is the moral of the story? Until next week, remember that your mother-in-law overseas (with whom you Skype on a regular basis) can now compromise your system and bring you down! Beware!

[via The H Security]

July 14 2011


Coming Soon: Tinychat’s 12-Way Group Video Chat App For Facebook

Soon Facebook will be expanding its Chat product with video calling functionality, powered by Skype. It won’t support group video calling, though, at least not at first, and we haven’t heard anything about support on mobile phones so far.

Next week, Tinychat will submit a group video chat application that will work on both iOS devices and desktop browsers, and supports video chat sessions of up to 12 people at the same time.

The promotion video below shows what the app will look like, but it’s the fact that it support video calls from the desktop as well as iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices that sets it apart from similar applications from fring and Tango (and Google+ Hangouts).

I’m not a big fan of group video calling myself, but I realize that lots of people engage in that kind of activity on regular basis around the world. All you need to do it from your iOS (and soon Android) devices or your desktop via Tinychat is to have a Facebook account, which, you know, more than 750 million people do. In short, I think this app will be a hit.

I talked to Tinychat co-founder CEO Dan Blake, and he told me that the Tinychat web service is handling over 25 million visits a month, with close to 100,000 new users signing up on a daily basis. Already, Blake says, Tinychat processes more than a billion minutes of video calls per month, and revenue is starting to flow in.

The company recently raised $1.5 million in funding from Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, angel investorNaval Ravikant and A-Grade, the investment vehicle of Madonna manager Guy Oseary, actor Ashton Kutcher and billionaire Ron Burkle.

We’ll update when the app goes live.

July 06 2011


Facebook Video Chat v. Google Hangouts: It’s No Contest

One of the questions I had when I broke the news last week about the Facebook/Skype partnership: Would group video chat be part of the product, and if so would it be free?

The answer is no, there’s no group chat. Facebook says that one on one video chat is far more popular on Skype than group chat and so it makes sense to start there. But that’s misdirection – group chat on Skype requires that at least one user be paying $4.49/month for premium service. So not a lot of group video chat happens on Skype.

Google’s new hangout product is all about group chat, and it’s free. Up to ten people can use it at once. Google is smart about this, figuring out which person is talking and focusing the video stream on them until someone else takes over. If you want to have fun with a group of friends, or hold a dead simple video team call, Google Hangouts is perfect for that.

But Google Hangouts isn’t as good for one on one conversations. The whole setup of a hangout, sending out invites, is too complicated for that, Instead you can just initiate a Google video call directly to another user, and that works very similarly to Skype and now Facebook (Google should add a video chat button to user profiles, too).

If you want to have a one on one video chat, and your friend list is hosted at Facebook, the new Facebook video chat is a near perfect product. You can initiate a call right from the home page, or that person’s profile page. And there’s no need to register for Skype, or download the Skype client.

Both products require their own download, though. And neither work on mobile yet.

So for now, there’s really no comparison between the products. Facebook video chat is great to talk to friends one at a time. Google Hangouts is great for group chat. There’s no real overlap between the products at all.

But…I wouldn’t be surprised to see Facebook launch group video chat down the road. Until now Skype has kept up fees for premium/business users, and we’ve heard that it was always a key “future revenue” product that they pointed to during their IPO and buyout process. But few users seem to be willing to go premium, and their new owners may just remove that pay barrier sooner rather than later. When that happens I’d expect Facebook to launch that feature as well shortly afterward.


Facebook Launches Ad Hoc Group Chat, New Chat Design, And Video Chat With Skype

Facebook announced a trio of related new chat products today: ad hoc group chat, a new chat design, and video calling powered by Skype. The ad hoc group chat lets Facebook users create group chats without first creating a group. Half the people on Facebook use groups, and group chat was one of the most widely requested features.

The new design makes chat look better on wide screens. Now there is a side panel showing you the people you chat with the most and whether they are online or not, which shows up on wider screens. It reminds me of the side rail in the RockMelt social browser, which Facebook has been working with closely.

But the big announcement is around video calling, which we broke last week. You can try the video calling now. It browser-based inside Facebook, and is currently only one-to-one video calling. (Skype charges for group video chat). One nice feature is that you can leave your friends video voicemails if they don’t answer, so it is both live and asynchronous. Jason has more details.

Immediately, people will be comparing Facebook video calling to Google+ Hangouts, which is a group video chat capability within Google’s new social product. The lack of group video chat in the Facebook product might be seen as a weakness, but most video chats tend to be one-to-one. And Facebook can always add group video chats later. The better comparison is to Google Chat, which has supported video in GMail since 2008.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls the Skype app “the first example of a great social app.” It’s not just video chat, it’s video chat with your Facebook friends. He sees the next five years being about social apps built on top of the infrastructure Facebook has built. Communications products are inherently social, and chat is a good place to start.


Skype Averaging 300M Minutes Of Video Calling Per Month; Represents 50 Percent Of Traffic

Skype CEO Tony Bates just took the stage at today’s Facebook event announcing integrated video calling, group chat and new design today and revealed a number of new stats regarding video calling on the VoIP platform. Bates said that Skype users are averaging 300 million minutes per month of video calling. Bates says that 50 percent of Skype’s traffic is video calling.

Back in December, Skype told us that video calling represented 40 percent of all Skype calls, so clearly the interaction with video is growing.

As Bates tells members of the press of the Facebook-Skype integration, For us we think this makes a lot of business sense. Thinking about having Skype paid products on the web. We look forward to bringing video calling powered by Skype on Facebook to every one of you out there.

Bates expects the Facebook integration to considerably increase video calling traffic for Skype.

You can read more about the recently announced Skype-Facebook integration here. And you can also see Skype’s mobile video strategy here.

Tags: TC Facebook Skype
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