One Messenger Account, Multiple Computers

Post ImageMy favorite Skype feature appears to be coming to the next version of Windows Live Messenger! According to a cached LiveSide post, Windows Live Messenger 9 will get something called "Multiple Points of Presence Support". Essentially that means you can sign in using the same account from multiple places. Currently, if you sign in on your desktop and then try to sign in on your laptop, your desktop gets disconnected. Skype has had the ability to sign in from multiple computers for quite a while, and I absolutely love it!

I can’t believe it has taken Microsoft so long to add support for this feature. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has created multiple Live accounts just so that I can be signed in on multiple computers. That means you have multiple contact lists though, which kind of sucks. With this feature, and the ability to link Live accounts (released last month) I expect there will be a significant drop in the number of accounts in use.

Another obvious feature coming to WLM9 is support for hyperlinked status messages. Basically that means you’ll be able to click the Twitter link I always have in my status 🙂

Read: ZDNet

Come on Skype, tell us what really happened!

As you probably know, Skype went down on Thursday and didn’t resume to normal until sometime Saturday. Hundreds of bloggers have written about the outage, and the event has raised a number of really interesting questions, such as “how mad can we get when a free service goes down?” The answers may still be up for debate, but one thing is clear: Skype’s excuse is downright unacceptable.

Here’s what they wrote today on their blog:

The disruption was triggered by a massive restart of our users’ computers across the globe within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update.

Skype loses points not only for failing to accept any responsibility for the outage, but also for making such an incredibly dumb statement. As Long Zheng pointed out:

Think about it. If Windows Update did in fact cause the restart of millions of Skype users worldwide, which it can do without argument, then how come Skype doesn’t crash the second Tuesday of every month when of course Microsoft distributes its Windows patches like they have for the past 3 years and years of unscheduled patches prior to that? As far as I recall, last week wasn’t any different.

Am I missing something? I’m not saying it was not Windows Update, but why only last week did it do what it could have done 36 times already?

I get the distinct feeling that Skype is unwilling to admit they did something wrong. Even if this particular Tuesday did something extra special with the updates, and even if it caused a flood of requests, shouldn’t Skype have been prepared for that? In their explanation they say:

We can confirm categorically that no malicious activities were attributed or that our users’ security was not, at any point, at risk.

Does that mean that Skype was open to attack before this happened? A flood of requests from Windows Update should be no different than a flood of requests with malicious intent. Actually, you’d probably assume the latter would be worse.

Something just doesn’t add up.

Read: Skype Heartbeat

Skype 1.4 Released! Video coming soon?

Post ImageSkype launched the latest version of their Windows software yesterday, bringing the popular VoIP tool to version 1.4.0.71. I installed it on both of my machines this afternoon, and it appears to be running quite well. Here are some of the more noticeable new features:

  • You can forward calls on to mobiles, landlines and other Skype Names.
  • They have added downloadable ringtones!
  • There’s a bunch of new emoticons, 21 to be exact.

You can see the entire list of new features, changes, and bugfixes here. And the coolest feature of all? A feature that might be coming in as little as a month, according to a post by Roland Tanglao:

There you have it! Skype introduces video calling in November 2005 for Windows. So Mac and Linux Skype video calling will be there in 2006 which means 2007 is the year of video calling for the masses.

Definitely check out his post to see the picture he attached. Interesting indeed! You can download the latest version of Skype at their website, and be sure to keep your eyes open for that video version!

As the new version of Skype has call forwarding, and because the application seems to work fairly well on my Tablet PC, I have decided to have my “mastermaq” account connect automatically, and I have set the old “blogosphereradio” account to simply forward. So if you want to get in touch with me over Skype, please use my mastermaq account.

Read: Skype

eBay acquires Skype

Post ImageI posted about the rumored deal on Thursday of a marriage between eBay and Skype. Today, the two companies announced that eBay would purchase Skype for $2.6 billion dollars:

Company executives said Monday that eBay plans to pay $1.3 billion in cash and $1.3 billion in stock to the global communications company. It has agreed to hand over up to an extra $1.5 billion, for a total payout of more than $4 billion, if Skype meets certain financial targets by 2008, according to a presentation to investors on Monday morning.

As I said previously, I am not sure how smart this was for eBay. Surely purchasing PayPal back in 2002 made a lot of sense, and they immediately saw a return on investment. And it was probably a rather large return, if I had to guess. Skype doesn’t make a lot of money, and might not ever make that much money.

If all the deal turns out to be is a communications network for eBayers, it’ll be pretty clear that it was a waste of money. eBay could probably have built their own system for far less. Who knows though, it might turn out to be a very wise investment. Maybe Meg Whitman knows something the rest of us don’t. Time will tell.

You can read the official press release here.

Read: CNET News.com

eBay+Skype – What about Amazon?

Post ImageThe big story today in the world of technology (or M&A, depending on how you look at it), originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, is that eBay is in talks to buy Skype for, get this, $3 to $5 billion (yes billion). Seems like anything but a match made in heaven to me. Mark Evans agrees:

eBay purchasing online auctions houses overseas makes sense as do moves into new areas such as online rental listings. But spending $3-billion to buy Skype puzzles me. If anyone can explain eBay’s strategic thinking, I’m open to be educated. For investors, eBay’s interest in Skype could be an alarming indication management is concerned about the growth prospects for the auction business, which may explain why eBay shares have fallen today.

Skhype!

Skype has become quite the media whore as of late, with rumored suitors in the last couple months including Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, News Corporation, and InterActive. Yahoo, Microsoft and Google balked at the purchase price, no doubt because they could build their own competitor for far less. Talks with the other two didn’t amount to anything.

Skype is horribly over-priced:

Om Malik has a post citing a Swedish newspaper that suggests Skype has annual sales of about $70 million. Doing a little quick math suggests a $2-billion to $3-billion purchase would give Skype a price to revenue multiple of 30 to 45 times.

And even more importantly, I can’t see how Skype and eBay result in any synergies. They are completely different businesses, and I don’t think eBay needs a communication network to grow. Furthermore, adding Skype to it’s portfolio may only create new headaches for eBay, who had to jump through hoops at times to get PayPal where it is today. Dealing with financial regulators is one thing; dealing with communications regulators is quite another.

What about Amazon.com?

So the question then, is what does Amazon.com do if the rumored eBay-Skype marriage turns out to be true? Surely there’d be some pressure on them to make a move, as their primary competitor these days is most definitely eBay.

One scenario: partner up with Google in a real hurry. eBay would have both PayPal and Skype under it’s wing, so it might make sense for Amazon.com to try and get in bed with Google and it’s Google Talk and Google Wallet (rumored) services. The other advantage for Amazon in this scenario is that it could happen very quickly, as opposed to building their own systems. On the other hand, Google is a competitor of Amazon’s already with Froogle and Amazon’s A9.

Another scenario would have Amazon build their own communications system, perhaps using Jabber. I don’t think Amazon sees itself as a development company so it would be a bit out of character, but if Google can do it, why not Amazon right? This scenario would depend very heavily on whether Amazon sees any advantage to having such a communications system. I would imagine they are scratching their heads a little right now about eBay and Skype too.

Any other ideas? It will be interesting to watch this one unfold!

Google Talk

Post ImageGoogle has certainly been busy as of late. They launched another new program recently, this one called Google Talk:

They say talk is cheap. Google thinks it should be free. Google Talk enables you to call or send instant messages to your friends for free-anytime, anywhere in the world. Google Talk is in beta and requires a Gmail username and password.

Another instant messaging client? Last thing I need, let me tell you. But curious as I am, I downloaded it tonight and tried it out (Dickson did too, so I’d have someone to chat with). Interesting enough, and simple to install, but largely a waste of my time. Here’s why:

  • This has got to be the most basic IM client in the world! Dickson created a better one for his class project last year.
  • You can’t change anything. Not your display name, not your font, not your font color, nothing.
  • No emoticons! Just colored text instead.
  • The application looks and feels like a web page – no doubt by design.

The program also has voice chat, and that feature appeared to work quite well. Essentially what it boils down to though is that it’s not good enough for me to replace my main IM client. I use MSN Messenger (feel free to add me, mastermaq@hotmail.com, just don’t email me there). Google Talk is an interesting experiment, but it doesn’t come close to being good enough to replace MSN, nor does it look like it will anytime soon. Heck, Skype and Yahoo Messenger are both light years beyond Google Talk. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that all of my contacts would need to have Google Talk too.

I suspect the only reason this program was created is so that Google staff can talk to one another using their own network, nothing more. Unless the second beta looks amazing, you won’t find me on Google Talk anytime soon.

Read: Google Talk

Skypecasting

Are you a Skypecaster? Apparently there are quite a few of you out there, sharing recordings over the Internet using the freely available Skype:

Some evidence suggests that Skypecasters may be becoming more widespread, even though it requires a high level of technical know-how. The “implications are very disruptive,” according to the SkypeJournal, a well-known Web community that provides Skypecast instructions. “Many Skypers want to record their Skype conversations and turn them into podcasts.”

And right now, it really does require a lot of know-how. Skype doesn’t offer a “record this conversation” feature, which they really should. “We’re aware of [skypecasting] and encourage developers to help facilitate it,” said spokeswoman Kelly Larrabee. Really?! Then add the damn feature already, it’s not that hard!

Read: CNET News.com