skype

Hotspots are available across the world and offer an easy way to get connected when you're not at home. Microsoft has released a Skype WiFi app (www.skype.com) for Windows 8, enabling consumers to connect to said hotspots and chat with friends and family over WiFi, instead of racking up expensive roaming charges or fumbling around with direct registration.

Should you find yourself travelling abroad and require to remain in contact with friends and whatnot, this app is definitely a must-have for you. What's also cool is the fact you can also use the Internet access for general web browsing too. The best part is there's no extra step to get started. Simply log in with your Skype account and add some Skype Credit.

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Earlier this year Microsoft and other tech giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook were accused of giving the government backdoor access to their systems. The program, in operation since 2007, is called PRISM and is operated by United States National Security Agency. Recent leaks by Edward Snowden revealed a relationship that has been in place for quite some time. Microsoft in particular has been singled out in regards to Skype communications allegedly being available to the government. All companies involved have denied giving the government direct access.

In a recent blog post, Microsoft goes on the offensive and responds to the issue around government demands for your data. Here is what is currently going down.

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Windows Phone 8 came out last fall. October 29th to be exact. It came with some killer hardware between the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X. It also had a slew of handy new features within the OS itself. Its major change, something most consumers will never know or appreciate, was the change to the Windows NT kernel. The same kernel powering Windows 8. It’s been over 8 months since then, what does Microsoft have in store for Windows Phone going forward?

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To add to what is an increasingly news-worthy day, Skype has just pushed out a nice little update for Windows Phone 8 users, bumping that version to 2.8.0.84.

The Skype app for Windows Phone 8 has had a mixed track record with updates and coming late to the new OS, but with the last few releases it seems to have stabilized and is increasingly getting better and better. What’s more, this isn’t a vague “bug fixes” update but rather has some documented changes.

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Sometimes technology is a collection of circuitry and silicon, sometimes though – it is a magical moment full of feelings and memories. The best experiences are born when technology transcends our knowledge and connects us with what we love. British science fiction writer and futurist, Arthur C. Clarke, once said:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Microsoft has been around for a long time and for those of us who live off of the technology they provide, some of the memories will never seep away.

In 2007, the company released a four minute commercial that has come to be known as “Your Digital Lifestyle”. The ad highlighted the then current hi-tech Microsoft products of the time and how one green shirted hipster used them to party the night away. The commercial is set to a cover of Ash’s Girl from Mars by Canadian group, Magneta Lane.

Buckle up, because we are going on a field trip to six years ago; along the way, we are going to jam with our green shirted friend and revisit some of our past Microsoft technology goodies. Windows Vista will probably be seen along the way, but there will be plenty of other experiences to combat that bad flavor.

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We’ve been hearing since the beginning of June that Microsoft, and specifically CEO Steve Ballmer, were prepping a major reorganization of the company to better reflect their new role as a “devices and services” company. Rumors were that we would hear about the specifics of the plan by July 1st but that time has come and gone.

Now, Bloomberg is citing a few sources on one possible plan for the company.  One move has Skype president Tony Bates being placed in charge of acquisitions and relationships with software developers, while current head of Windows Julie Larson-Greene (who was on stage recently at Build), would get oversight of hardware engineering for the whole company, including Xbox, Surface and what else Redmond has at their Skunkworks.

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Skype video chat is a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends, family and business contacts, but up until now, it was only as good as who was in front of their device at any given moment. All of that has changed with Skype's new Video Messaging feature, which is essentially video mail.

It allows you to record a video, up to three minutes long, and send it to any contact, whether they are online or offline. Then, once your contact signs in, they will see your message waiting for them and can view and respond at their own leisure. Fantastic, right?

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Microsoft is everywhere and they want you to know that. The two latest commercials (see the second ad after the break) from the boys in Redmond show off the harmonious marriage of various services on Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices. Internet Explorer, Bing, Xbox, Skype, SkyDrive, and the App store - are all touched upon.

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Okay - the Xbox One isn’t actually watching us shower, but Microsoft doesn’t want us to go even a few minutes without seeing an ad for their latest console. Our Editor-At-Large, Simon Sage, tweeted this picture after getting back to his Los Angles hotel room.

The advertisement states: “Drive fast. Defend Rome. Skype on your TV. All in one. – Xbox One” The first two statements are references to Xbox One exclusive games including Forza Motorsport 5 and Crytek’s RYSE. The third statement is reference to the console’s new ability to make Skype calls via Kinect in full screen or snap mode, while playing a game.

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Today Microsoft announced that the recently released edition of Office, 365, is the bestselling version of their productivity software to date. When the service went live, the company reported licenses being sold at a rate of more than one per second. In a mere 100 days, Office 365 Home Premium has hit more than 1 million subscribers.

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Noted VOIP client, Viber, which just submitted its beta 2.1 version for approval a few days ago, has already gotten a significant makeover that adds a bunch of features for Windows Phone 8. Most notably, version 2.2.2.0 adds free calling with HD sound quality, but it also adds Live Tile support. You can now pin conversations to the Start screen and receive lockscreen notifications.

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Microsoft is sending out more reminders to consumers who are still using Messenger with an offer for them to upgrade to Skype. On April 8th, the company will be merging both Messenger and Skype together, including IM and contact lists. This will require consumers to upgrade to the communication service, which will see the end of Messenger as we know it. To help soften the blow, Microsoft is offering a month of free calls for those who sign up with Skype.

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Microsoft bought Skype back in May of 2011, so you’d think we’d have the premier mobile Skype experience on Windows Phone right? Well, it’s been somewhat of a rough start. The first app on Windows Phone couldn’t run in the background and more recent versions have been missing features found on iOS and Android. Well, Skype just got another update for Windows Phone, let’s see what it brings.

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Good news for those who are on both Windows Phone 7.8 and the latest version of Microsoft's mobile platform. Joe Belfiore, who heads up the Windows Phone team and is the idol we all secretly praise in a dark, dim-lit room has revealed more information on both system-level Skype integration, as well as the pesky "Other" storage issue that many consumers are experiencing.

The tweets, which were published before Belfiore's tweet about the Windows Phone 7.8 Live Tile issue, went unchecked but we've been rightfully notified by more observant souls. So what's Microsoft looking at when it comes to further integration with its communications service, and will we finally see a fix for the shocking levels of internal storage stolen by the operating system?

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Nothing puts a smile on our faces like an update and today’s winner is Skype… for Windows 8. Yeah we’d like to see a little more effort from the Skype team with the Windows Phone version, but it’s great to see Windows 8 get some love too. What’s new you ask? Read on and find out.

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