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Microsoft Acquires Skype for $8.5 Billion

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

After rumors that first Facebook and then Microsoft were in talks to acquire Skype, the latter announced that it has acquired the VoIP giant for $8.5 billion in cash.

Skype will be integrated into Microsoft devices and systems such as Xbox and Kinect, Xbox Live, the Windows Phone, Lync and Outlook, Microsoft said in a statement. The company has pledged to continue supporting and developing Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms as well.

The deal, which was spearheaded by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer with assistance from Charles Songhurst, the company’s head of corporate corporate strategy, was completed Monday evening, AllThingsD reported earlier.

The acquisition is an expensive one for Microsoft. Not only is it the largest price Microsoft has paid for a company in decades, Skype is not yet profitable. Despite revenues totaling $860 million last year and operating profits of $264 million, the company lost $6.9 million overall, according to documents filed with the SEC. And the company carries $686 million in debt.

Much of the company’s appeal rests in its largest user base of 663 million, 145 of which use Skype monthly (Update: Microsoft says Skype has 170 million regular users), and 8.8 million of which are paying customers.

There is one clear set of winners here: Skype’s investors. A group including Silver Lake, Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investment Board purchased the company from eBay for $2.75 billion in September 2009.

In August, Skype filed for an IPO but put plans on hold after Tony Bates joined the company as CEO in October. Bates will take on the title of president of the Microsoft Skype Division and report directly to Ballmer.

Source -: http://mashable.com

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Google Named Most Reputable Company in U.S

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google Inc an American public corporation is now recognized the world over as the fastest search engine. It is an easy to use free service that conveys relevant information in a matter of seconds to the user.

Harris Interactive poll asked about 30,000 people in the US to express their opinion on the 60 most visible companies in the US and rate them on the basis of 20 different categories like finance, leadership, social appeal etc.

Google has topped the list of the most reputed company in the US. Harris Interactive has rated Google with 84.05/100 which indicates excellent performance. Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Sony and Amazon are the other technology companies rated over 80 but Google tops them all.

Insurance, Banks and oil companies were rated the least and AIG was given the worst reputation with 47.77. BP, the company known for its worst oil spills followed next.

Google definitely enjoys total supremacy and has appealed to the masses even when government investigations and privacy concerns have tried to tarnish its image. It is also indicative of the fact that more and more people are connected to the web. Google’s product and service quality has made them accessible to millions.

Source:- http://www.clickindia.com

IE9 Downloads Cross 2.3 Million in One Day IE9 Downloads Cross 2.3 Million in One Day

Microsoft on Cloud 9

The final version of Internet Explorer 9, the latest iteration of Microsoft’s web browser, was released to public two days ago on of March 15. In just 24 hours, the browser managed to cross 2.3 million downloads. That’s a pretty impressive number, considering only Windows Vista and 7 users can download this browser. Of course, Microsoft couldn’t be more pleased with this news, as is evident from their blog post. In comparison though, Firefox 3 managed to cross 8 million downloads in a day, creating a world record for itself back in 2008. Then again, Firefox is a multi-platform browser, available to Mac and Linux users as well.

We are glad that IE9 is getting a good response. It’s quite a good browser and for the first time, Microsoft has a browser that can compete with the best of the browsers out there. Unfortunately, unless the Windows XP users upgrade to Windows 7, we don’t really see the percentage of IE6 users to drop any time soon. Too bad IE9 is not available for XP users.
To download IE9, click here. To read our full review, click here.

Microsoft Bing Searches Include Facebook Likes

In an answer to Google’s Twitter searches, Bing makes public likes searchable

Social networking is ubiquitous and the current trend now. It’s all pervading grip has now spread to search engines too. Google already has a social search with Twitter integrated into its results, but what’s lacking is Facebook in the social search arena. However, it isn’t for long because Facebook has partnered with Microsoft and the alliance see’s Facebook “Liked Results” being integrated into Bing searches.

Microsoft’s Bing team blog explains how it works:

While we are very excited to talk about our next development, we’re all aware that it’s all part of a longer journey. This is the first time in human history that people are leaving social traces that machines can read and learn from, and present enhanced online experiences based on those traces. As people spend more time online and integrate their offline and online worlds, they will want their friends’ social activity and their social data to help them in making better decisions. Integrating with Twitter data 16 months ago was one step, and exploring Facebook’s rich streams is another.

For those concerned about privacy, only the publicly liked links will be available on the search engine, but that still leaves the possibility of unsolicited likes by friends being included in the links. However, that is a moot point because the whole point of friend system is to have people you trust. Moreover, Bing mentions that not all Facebook “Liked Results” will not show up in searches. The partnership harks to a new trend of the social foray of the two players in the search engine market.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Becomes a Comic Book Hero

New 48-pager comic book to paint him in a fair light

The youngest billionaire, Time magazine’s controversial Person of the Year, and the king of the social networking Mark Zuckerberg is finally getting the ultimate in American hero worship – the Comic Book treatment in the form of a 48-pager comic book titled ‘Mark Zuckerberg: Creator of Facebook‘ trade paperback. Written by freelance writer Jerome Maida for BlueWater comics, the book goes on sale today.

“Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire on the planet and created something that has already had a profound impact on the world. Yet hardly anyone knows much about him. It’s amazing,” says Maida about the comic book.

Most of you may be considering Zuckerberg out of character in the role of a comic book hero; a comic book villain would be more like it, especially in the light of him being portrayed as a back-stabbing manipulator in the recent movie The Social Network and his numerous autobiographies. However, Jerome Maida intends to paint the man in a “fair” light, as opposed to people’s perception about him.

He elaborates, “Rightly or wrongly, Mark dealt harshly with some people on his way to where he is today. As we see, he left many people feeling betrayed. I try my best to be fair here.” The book releases today in major comic book stores in U.S., and can also be ordered online from here.  The comic book has already been optioned for an upcoming short film.

Internet Explorer 9 Final May Release on March 16

Beauty of the Web event hinting at something major related to IE9

Last week, Microsoft rolled out the first Release Candidate of Internet Explorer 9 web browser. Apparently, the software giant is gearing up for the web browser war that seems to be heating up slowly. Neowin reported about a media invite being sent out about Microsoft holding Beauty of the Web event, again. Microsoft’s IE9 team would be hosting the event so we certainly anticipate IE9 final announcement. Microsoft held IE9 Beta announcement event with the same name – Beauty of the Web in September 2010.

Co-incidentally, Mozilla is also expected to release the Firefox 4.0 final version in March. Today, Google Chrome 10 matured to Beta stage and version 11.10 developer build was released. Yes, there’s no end to new versions of desktop web browsers.

We shall wait till March 14 to see if Microsoft will announce IE9 final or some eye-candy feature related to the same.

IE 9

Microsoft India Launches Office Web Apps

Access, edit Microsoft Office docs from anywhere

Microsoft Office Web Apps has been launched in India. Web Apps is Microsoft’s equivalent of Google Docs, which lets users create, access, edit, and share documents from the Office suite, which includes Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote, from any PC equipped with an Internet connection. The best part is that the service is absolutely free.

“Office Web Apps are a key piece of Microsoft’s overall cloud strategy. Features like ease of sharing and high document fidelity make Office Web Apps a powerful enabler of productivity in the cloud for modern information workers and consumers alike. Moreover, this tool helps students collaborate on their school and college projects in a seamless way,” said Sanjay Manchanda, Director, Microsoft Business Division.

All you need to run Office Web Apps is a Windows Live ID on SkyDrive or Hotmail to access Microsoft Office Web Apps from any of the supported web browsers like Internet Explorer 7 or later, Mozilla Firefox 3.5 or later, Google Chrome and Safari 4. The documents ported to and fro retain their style, formatting, embedded objects like images, and other meta objects. Office Web Apps is a boon for creating and maintaining collaborative documents, and features interoperability between the PC and Mac platforms.

web apps

Google, Bing Fight Over Copying Search Results

Bing denies copying search results and states that it learns from customers.

The Search Engine scene that has been dormant for a while has suddenly became active. Yesterday, Danny Sullivan, Editor of Search Engineland, posted an exhaustive account of how Google undertook a sting operation to check if Microsoft Bing was copying its search results. Basically, Google created 100 synthetic queries for a one time experiment to find out the similarity of search results between Google and Bing. Microsoft’s Harry Shum, Corp. VP for Bing called Google’s experiment a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking.

A Cold war was always on between Google and Microsoft. Both companies along with the new kid on the block, Blekko, appeared at Big Think’s even Farsight 2011: Beyond the Search Box. Many feel it’s a well executed publicity stunt by both Google and Microsoft, but it’s easy to pass judgment without referring to the details.

Amit Singhal, Google fellow, clarified on Google’s official Blog how the search giant created a honeypot consisting of 100 synthetic queries that average users won’t search for. Those queries were then checked on Internet Explorer 8 using Bing Tool bar with Suggested Sites option. Microsoft certainly uses both IE8 and Bing toolbar to collect information on users’ searches. On testing those synthetic queries, Google engineers were surprised to see the same search results appear in Bing.

In short, Google found out that Bing replicated the search results for any random query used in Google’s search Engine. The similarity of results didn’t appear immediately when the experiment began, but only over a period of a week or so. This experiment was reportedly ended in December. Hence, Shum and several others are obviously questioning why Google waited for 30 days to publish the findings. Maybe Google was taking legal advise on this matter.

Mary Jo Foley, author of All about Microsoft at ZDNet blogs, reported the same and got a reply from Microsoft’s spokesperson: We do not copy Google’s results. That didn’t seem comprehensive enough and hence followed a blog post by Harry Shum at Bing Community Blog. Shum called Google’s experiment a creative tactic.

The duel between Google and Bing over copying of search results seems to have heated up. Google wants Microsoft to stop mimicking Google. In a way it’s good, so that the errors aren’t repeated. Back in December, Google announced to bury bad merchant sites that ill-treat the consumers just to increase ranking in the search engine. So basically, in the name of Search Ranking Algorithm tweaking, Google smartly carried out the experiment. May be I am wrong, but everything is so perfectly timed like an Alfred Hitchcock novel.

Singhal told Sullivan, “It’s cheating to me because we work incredibly hard and have done so for years but they just get there based on our hard work. I don’t know how else to call it but plain and simple cheating. Another analogy is that it’s like running a marathon and carrying someone else on your back, who jumps off just before the finish line.”

At the Farsight 2011, Shum said, Google engineers helped us discover a new form of spam. I wished the Google engineers had shared that with us before they went to press. If you look at how each search engine ranks the results, Matt Cutts is referring to a few outlier examples. It’s not like we actually copied anything. We actually learn from our customers. Do you mean that Google owns the data?

Google seems to be deeply hurt with how close Bing appears. While Microsoft defends stating that users’ search behavior data has been used. This issue might soon be in court.

http://www.techtree.com/India/News/Google_Bing_Fight_Over_Copying_Search_Results/551-114354-643.html

Microsoft facilitates Online Students-Teachers Interaction

Nothing is left untouched by technology these days including the interaction between the students and teachers. Microsoft with its  Live@edu has opened up new possibilities for the Delhi Public School students by enabling them to communicate and collaborate online both with their classmates and with teachers. This is being enabled by Microsoft Live@edu suite of online and collaboration tools including Microsoft Outlook Live (that will offer students an e-mail id that they can keep after they pass out of school), Microsoft Office Live Workspace (where students can store, access, and share documents and files online) and Microsoft SkyDrive (where students can store heavy files and projects online).

The leading school’s authorities are confident that this interaction would make the school experience more enjoyable for its 5000 students and faculty members.Microsoft is all set to  regularly update and add to Live@edu services to help schools expand the set of services offered to students and alumni. Microsoft India Director (Marketing and Strategy) Tarun Malik said, ““Since it is a cloud based offering, DPS will also be able to save on maintenance costs and reduce the time spent in maintaining e-mail systems for students and alumni,”

Facebook Partners With Bing For Search Engine

Facebook joins hands with Bing to make search results sound more personal.

Microsoft has joined hands with Facebook to provide users a personal touch while they access their search results on Microsoft’s search engine Bing. As part of the four-year alliance between the two companies, Bing search engine will show users which sites and products their Facebook friends like.

To be optional, the new feature dubbed “Liked Results” will allow users to go through information that has already been liked by their friends who have previously gone through the information. Thus now the things you search will come with a personal recommendation form your Facebook friends. In addition to this, the new feature will also help users search for friends on Facebook.

The new feature though is only rolled out to users in the United States.

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