Everyone was a little flummoxed last week when Microsoft announced it had acquired Skype for a whopping $8.5 billion. The price seemed to be excessive and Microsoft to be an unlikely suitor. But today Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates has told the BBC that he advocated for the deal.
Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, announced today it has inked an agreement to purchase Skype Global for $8.5 billion in cold, hard cash. This ranks as Microsoft's biggest acquisition ever, and the Redmond software giant hopes its money will be well spent as it looks bolster its voice and video communications, and go up against Google and other rivals. Still, at $8.5 billion, the obvious questions is, did Microsoft overpay?
Google Voice. Skype. VoIP-to-PSTN providers. SIP-to-SIP calls. All of these technologies and products allow you to make calls that are either free or much cheaper than on your landline. Wouldn’t it be great if you could escape the clutches of your Telco and connect your home phone to these services? A phone server like Asterisk can help you realize this dream.
A privacy flaw in Skype's mobile application for Android could give cybercriminals access to user information from smartphones, private details such as the user's name, email address, contacts, and even chat logs, the VoIP service confirmed in a recent blog post. It's not something you should be overly concerned with, as unfettered access to cached profile information and instant messages does require the installation of a malicious third-party application, but definitely something you should be aware of, especially if you tend to install apps from outside the Android Market.
Skype might have been caught off guard by the news that their Android app was subject to a data stealing exploit, but the company has made an announcement to calm our nerves. Skype has acknowledged the issue, and is working on a fix. In the meantime, they suggest users be cautious about what apps they install.
Skype continues to make a mad dash for your living room any way it can. The latest union of Skype's VoIP service and your living room hardware comes from pairing Skype with Panasonic's Viera Cast Blu-ray player lineup, which includes the ability to make Skype video and voice calls supported by the Freetalk Conference Camera.
Skype is an awesome VoIP app. Firefox is still one of our favorite browsers. What happens when you put the two together? You get a buggy combination, Mozilla says.
"The current shipping version of the Skype Toolbar is one of the top crashers of Mozilla Firefox 3.6.13, and was involved in almost 40,000 crashes of Firefox last week," Mozilla stated in a blog post. "Additionally, depending on the version of the Skype Toolbar you're using, the methods it uses to detect and re-render phone numbers can make DOM manipulation up to 300 times slower, which drastically affects the page rendering times of a large percentage of Web content served today (plan English: to the user, it appears Firefox is slow loading Web pages)."
According to Mozilla, this constitutes a "major, user-facing issue" and meets the company's established criteria for blocking an add-on, which it's done. All versions of the Skype Toolbar, including beta releases, have been added to Firefox's blocklist.
Mozilla says this is a "soft block," meaning users are notified of what's happening and have the option of manually re-enabling the add-on. In the meantime, Mozilla said it's working with the Skype Toolbar team to "identify the issues that should be corrected, and will lift the soft block on future versions that address those issues."
Skype video conferencing on the PC has been the reality for a while now, and their recent expansion into mobile devices has helped turned the software client into a household name. With few places left to expand it should be no surprise that the VOIP solution is coming to the living room, but this time you’ll find it packed into upcoming Sony Blu-Ray players.
At the Sony CES booth in Las Vegas they were showing demos of the interface which requires not just the player, but a separate proprietary camera accessory. Video quality will be limited to SD resolution at launch, and according to Sony representatives they have no plans at the current time to make the leap to HD.
With Video calling being a built in feature of Kinect, I’m a bit surprised Sony hasn’t tried to make this happen first on the PS3 first. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if they end up changing their mind, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
Residents of mainland China got a rude awakening today. According to The Telegraph, popular voice over IP (VoIP) app Skype has been declared illegal in the country. The only Internet voice calls that will be legal to place are those made over the two government controlled telecoms, China Unicom and China Telecom. This effectively ends Skype's ambitions to break into the rapidly growing Chinese market.
This is far from the first western online product the Chinese government has blocked. Service like Twitter and Facebook are banned as well. Google even closed down servers in China early this year amid the censorship controversy. While Skype calling mat technically be illegal now, it is uncertain what actions the Chinese authorities will take against it.
As of now, most users still report being able to connect to Skype, and most can still download the client. Skype has said only that Chinese users should look toward their Hong Kong partner Tom Online for VoIP services. Though, many fear that Tom Online is monitoring traffic.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Skype offered up a post-mortem explanation to the recent outage that affected thousands of users who were unable to connect and communicate.
"For starters, it helps to understand that Skype is based on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, which is explained here. Last week, the P2P network became unstable and suffered a critical failure," Skype explains.
"Users running either the latest Skype for Windows (version 220.127.116.11), older versions of Skype for Windows (4.0 versions), Skype for Mac, Skype for iPhone, Skype on your TV, and Skype Connect or Skype Manager for enterprises were not affected by this initial problem.
"However, around 50 percent of all Skype users globally were running the 18.104.22.168 version of Skype for Windows, and the crashes caused approximately 40 percent of those clients to fail. These clients included 25-30 percent of the publicly available supernodes, also failed as a result of this problem."
In other words, users should be pointing the finger partially at themselves for running outdated software, though Skype wasn't as blunt about this. Instead, the company said it's looking into several ways to avoid something like this from happening again, including revamping its process for automatic updates and continuing to invest in capacity upgrades.