What began many years ago as Microsoft Messenger and evolved into Windows Live Messenger (or simply, WLM) is now being put to rest. Microsoft has officially announced that Skype will now officially replace Messenger for instant messaging, audio and video calling. As of sometime in the first quarter of 2013, WLM will be shuttered and no longer functional — unless you happen to be located in mainland China (where Skype is verboten, so to speak).
Microsoft purchased Skype in October of 2011 for $8.5 billion, and the consolidation has been anticipated by many. Both Skype and Windows Live Messenger share many of the same features, including instant messaging, and voice- and video-calling. The advantage Skype offers is a clear path to monetization, particularly for expanded features like a dedicated phone number to accept incoming calls, voice mail, and international calling plans.
But what really tilted the scale in favor of Skype is the broad device support. Skype is available on just about anything you can connect to the Internet — Windows, for sure, but Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, Android, and other devices.
What’s the impact to you?
If you use Windows Live Messenger (or Microsoft Messenger on a Mac), prepare to transition to Skype. Sometime during the first quarter of 2013, your WLM program will no longer connect.
Download and install the latest version of Skype and you’ll see an option to login using your Microsoft account. Use this, not your Skype account.
Next, you’ll be prompted to sign in to your Microsoft account. Use your Windows Live Messenger login information.
Now you have a choice. If you’re already using Skype, you can sync your contacts with an existing Skype account. If you haven’t used Skype yet, first crawl out from under that rock you’ve been hiding under, then select New to Skype. You could also use the “New…” link if you simply don’t want to merge your WLM and your existing Skype accounts.
In my case, I had two Skype accounts, and had to choose one of them to merge my WLM contacts into.
Once you’ve logged into your Skype account, you’re given one last chance to either confirm or cancel the merge. Note that once you’ve merged the accounts, you cannot “unmerge” them.
Once the merge is complete, you’ll see a new Messenger contacts group. Curiously, mine is empty. Hmmm…
Once your accounts are merged, you now sign into Skype using your Microsoft account information (username and password) and not your old Skype account info.
This is where it gets a little screwy. For me, I was unable to sign in to Skype on my iPhone or iPad using my Microsoft account, but my old Skype account info was still working.
On top of that, while my Skype and Facebook contacts were still showing up, my Windows Live Messenger contacts (and the new group) have gone AWOL. Just for kicks, I signed into Microsoft Messenger on my MacBook Pro and it signed me out of Skype. But in Messenger, it shows zero contacts.
Now it’s entirely possible that I didn’t have any contacts in WLM under that account. I haven’t used WLM in ages, and it’s not critical either way. Are there any brave WLM & Skype users out there who want to test this merge process and let me know if it works correctly for them? Leave a comment and let me know!
One of the frustrations with using various devices is that they don’t always play nicely with each other. For instance, wouldn’t it be nice if I could start an instant messaging conversation at work, continue it after I leave using my iPhone, and pick right up where I left off on my Mac Mini when I got home?
To achieve this, they keep your chat alive in the cloud, so Trillian knows when you switch to your iPad where you were in the conversation and can pick right up where you left off. It’s a great concept, and I’m beginning to see more and more of this.
I already have this concept for email (I use Gmail) and calendaring (Google Calendar). And recently I got Things, which syncs my to-do list between my Mac, my iPhone and my iPad (though not with the cloud). Simple Note is another great example. As more and more of our content moves to the cloud, we don’t need to manage where the data is and worry about keeping it synced — it’s automatic.
Does Trillian’s continuous client sound interesting to you? It’s still in beta, and currently only available with their Windows client, but you can download it here. Be sure to select the 5.0 beta version!
Back in 2005, multi-network instant messaging via the web was an emerging technology. Before then, you pretty much were limited to either running multiple desktop programs — one for AIM, another for Yahoo and still another for what was then called MSN Messenger — or a third-party desktop program like Trillian or Adium.
Then a little Bay Area startup named Meebo burst onto the scene. Back then it was just Seth, Elaine and Sandy working out of an apartment and bootstrapping their way. Today, Meebo claims 170 million people use their site each month. Not too shabby, guys! Keep up the great work.
Here’s my original post from 2005: Meebo: AJAX Meets Trillian.
The Windows Live Essentials beta is now available for download. I’ve had a chance to kick the tires on this one and I must say it’s a nice improvement. While the Essentials download includes such applications as Movie Maker and Photo Gallery – my two favorites are Windows Live Writer and Windows Live Messenger.
Windows Live Writer, as always, is a dependable way to compose and edit offline posts and upload them to your blog. It works perfectly for me, and I’m really enjoying the new ribbon interface. If you can use MS Office, you can use Windows Live Writer. And while there are lots of plug-ins available in the Windows Live Gallery – I think you’ll find this to be a full featured editor right “out of the box”. It’s easy to learn and easy to use.
Windows Live Messenger is my most favorite of all the Essentials programs. This new version brings together your social feeds, making it even easier to keep up with what your contacts are doing. It also offers integration with your Facebook feed. Your WLM contacts can get updates you post on Facebook and your Facebook contacts can see your Windows Live Messenger status updates (assuming you link the accounts). I personally make this a one way thing. I don’t mind my WLM contacts seeing my Facebook updates (which are rare anyway), but I don’t show all my status changes (like “BBL” or “AFK”) to my Facebook contacts. But I can see where many users might be quite happy to allow 2-way integration. There is not a complete integration with Facebook chat yet, like you’ll find in Digsby or Trillian, but I’m hopeful we’ll see more development in the future. (I really detest Facebook chat on the Facebook website so I’m really hoping this integration is under development – but we’ll just have to wait and see.) This is certainly a good start. Of course Yahoo interoperability functions as it always has. Although, just as in the past, I’ve found that sometimes status updates don’t appear correctly – but that’s nothing new and since it requires servers playing nice with each other is just the nature of the beast I think.
Sharing links in your status is easier than ever. And you can link social services like Flickr, Multiply,Photobucket, Facebook, Myspace, and the list goes on and on. For a complete list of social sites you can integrate into your social feed you’ll need to visit your profile on Windows Live and set them up. They make the authorization process easy as pie, so you can view your updates from all your sites in one nicely laid out feed.
A really great new feature is being able to leave a video message for your offline contacts. There is no need to go to a third party site to do this any longer! However, your contact needs to be appearing offline for you to do this. I’ve tested the video chat in Wave 4 and I must say the quality is most impressive. There is a new layout to the video chat you either have to get used to it or make your viewing area a little larger than you may be accustomed to so that your image doesn’t overlap that of your contact, but it’s workable. The images are no longer stacked on top of each other, they are slightly tiled. But as you enlarge the viewing area (by dragging the edge of the chat box – you’ll see they do separate.) As with anything – change takes a little getting used to. The sound quality was good, and in my test conversation with my dear friend Philip, I didn’t encounter any glitches in the performance. Overall, a far better debut than the video in Wave 3 beta when it came out.
A nice new feature is being able to appear selectively offline to some contacts without blocking them completely (which results in not getting any offlines from them either.) It is important to know that you must appear online to a contact to speak with them. You cannot initiate or respond to a message if you are showing offline to them. However, if you are invisible, you can appear online to just the contacts you need to. The prompts make it very easy to continue chatting if you’ve forgotten you are offline to one or more of your contacts. This is a big improvement in my book!!
Of course, there are bound to be a few bugs – it is still a beta after all! Games don’t seem to be functioning properly just yet. I also had one time when my online contacts didn’t show – but I just logged out, told WLM to forget me, and logged back in and it was completely fine. And I’ve had a few times where I was unable to click into my chat box to respond to a message after choosing to appear online. But in these cases, closing the chat window and re-opening a new one did the trick. This is still a public beta. There will be bugs.
One very important note: you must be using Vista SP2 or Windows 7 to install the new Wave 4 beta. It is not supported for XP. Some of the new and improved features will only be available Wave 4 to Wave 4. However, you will still be able to chat and have video conversations with your contacts who are still on XP. Overall, I’ve found the beta version to be very stable on my machine, and I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
Originally posted at patndoris.com
If you haven’t heard of it, ChatRoulette is an up-and-coming webcam service that connects you to a random webcammer that could be located anywhere around the world. It’s a Flash-based website, so as long as you’ve got a webcam and Flash, you won’t need to install any software.
Casey Neistat was curious to try ChatRoulette and gather some statistics about the people who use it and their behavior. He’s put that all together in the following brief-and-amusing video. Watch it to learn about the 14% of users who he classifies as neither “boys” or “girls” and learn what “nexting” is all about.
Try ChatRoulette, and share your experience.
It’s one of those questions that just never seems to go away….”Who has blocked me on [insert your favorite instant messenger program here]?” My answer is short and sweet – you can’t know, you’ll never know, and your contacts have their right to privacy. That last bit alone is enough to generate quite a heated debate as I recently found out – but I’ll spare you the details. More importantly – trying to find out who has blocked you can compromise your computer’s security and infect you will all kinds of malware and viruses you never imagined – and it’s not going to yield any accurate information.
For years, I’ve told people to stay away from block-checker websites. Back in November, Christopher Boyd wrote on SpywareGude to beware of a block checker file that you can now download. It’s a new spin on the websites that have stolen credentials for some time. AIf you install MSN Block Checker you will be infecting your machine with Mob.Blockcheck – take a look at it’s behaviors and I’m sure you’ll decide you don’t really want it on your machine. Also referenced in this detailed post are 3 previous posts about other online sites claiming to tell you who’s blocked you and phishing scams aimed solely at getting you to reveal your login credentials. Just this week, the well known Raymond.cc blog posted on an email that appears to come from one of your contacts and leads to a site asking for your login info to determine who has you blocked. I probably don’t need to tell you the email is a phishing scam. The friend from whom it comes has probably had their login stolen. The Raymond.cc post also includes very good information on what to do if you believe your login credentials have been compromised.
Many users don’t practice good security online – using the same login and/or password for multiple sites and services. Being compromised may mean there is a lot more at risk in such cases. Phishers and hackers are quite happy to share their payloads with each other. Many people wrongly assume that because they run an antivirus or malware scan and it comes up clean they are not at risk and/or have not been compromised. FALSE! Until the advent of the “downloadable” file previously mentioned, most of this phishing was done online. It’s true many of these sites also dump malware or crapware on your machine as a bonus – but the real problem is when the credentials are entered online. It’s hook, line and sinker for the phisher. They have what they need. All those annoying IM’s and emails going out to contacts will most likely be happening from a remote server. All the antivirus and malware scans in the world aren’t going to stop it from happening. Following the advice on what to do when you’ve become compromised becomes paramount if you want to stop the problem (and I assure you – your contacts would really appreciate it if you do.)
Knowing if you’ve been blocked is obviously tempting (or the phishers wouldn’t be doing so well with it now would they?) I have never heard of a block checker that works, doesn’t infect your machine or steal your credentials. Ask yourself this. Why does a site need your login credentials to determine if someone else is online? Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it? You have to ask yourself – is it really worth it to find out? There are options. Email the person and ask if they are not communicating for a reason. While slightly subversive, you could create another identify and see if the person will add you as a new contact. If you can see them online with one identity and not the other, then you are likely blocked. Of course, that’s only as good as getting the person to accept some unknown new contact on their list (and if they weren’t mad at you before they may be after you do that if they figure it out.) Send them an IM – perhaps they just aren’t showing online, but will actually answer you. Or, you could just be adult about it – accepting that someone is showing offline to you for whatever their own personal reasons may be. Whatever your choice – stay away from the block checkers. They don’t work and the risks are far greater than the reward (or lack thereof).
Storyteller and poet Rives tells a three-minute love story with a twist — it’s all done with emoticons. A very clever video presentation given at TED, worth a watch.
Rives is a regular on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and starts in the Bravo special “Ironic Iconic America.”
What is Skype for SIP?
Skype for SIP allows businesses to integrate Skype VoiP calls with supported PBX systems. This allows employees to make regular calls from their desktop phone, and behind the scenes the PBX will route the call via Skype. Skype has very competitive international rates, so if your company has a need for a lot of international calling, it could result in substantial savings.
Businesses may also choose to purchase online numbers wherever they are located to let customers in that country call them at local rates. By adding click to call buttons on web pages and emails all registered Skype users worldwide can reach your business, reception or call center for free using Skype.
What is SIP?
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a standards-based protocol that is implemented by all leading communications equipment vendors to enable conversations over the internet. SIP is a defined standard described in RFC 3261 and is predominantly used in business environments.
The Skype for SIP beta is free, but you will pay for any local numbers and calls placed at prevailing Skype Out rates. And you will need to have a compatible PBX that meets the following requirements:
- Protocol: SIP (rfc3261)
- IP Transport: UDP
- Authentication: SIP DIGEST or IP Authentication
- Channels: Maximum of 300 simultaneous channels
- CODECS:G.711, G.729 and SILK*
- DTMF: Inband and rfc2833
- E.164: International number format for all calls (local, national and international)
Finally, remember that this is a beta. Don’t rely on it as your only link to the world. Test it and expect the usual problems you’d find with any beta software.
From the Windows Live Team blog:
Over the weekend Microsoft learned that several thousand Windows Live Hotmail customers’ credentials were exposed on a third-party site due to a likely phishing scheme.
One site indicated more than 10,000 Hotmail credentials may have been compromised. Translation: User names and passwords were illegally posted online. Most appear to be accounts in Europe and include @hotmail.com, @msn.com and @live.com accounts. If your account was on this list, you will need to fill out the form linked in the Windows Live Team post to regain access to it, as they are blocking the known compromised accounts for obvious security reasons.
If you haven’t yet read How To Avoid Phishing Worms on WLM please take time to do so. While the illegal list was removed, for a period of time, this information was available to those who may use it for phishing schemes. It is important to know what to watch out for, and how to protect yourself.
Digsby, the multi-network IM and social media tool has been updated with tighter Facebook integration and added support for MySpace IM. This is good, but the really great news is that dotSyntax has also removed the confusion mess of crapware nags from their installer.
The new installer now gives you an option to install the ‘Digsby Toolbar’ and asks if you want to contribute unused CPU cycles to sponsored research. While all of the adware/sponsor programs used in the old Digsby installer were optional, the new installer makes opting out easier and more obvious — a real plus considering that most users don’t really read the fine print during installation.
MySpace users can now use Digsby to connect to their contacts using MySpace IM, without opening a browser. And yes, in spite of the fact that MySpace seems to have fallen off the face of the planet from a press standpoint, there are still 70 million users, making it over 3x bigger than Twitter.
The real meat of the changes are in Digsby’s Facebook integration. Now you can fully interact with your Facebook Newsfeed right from Digsby. You can post your status updates, comment on friend’s activity, “like” status updates and browse photos. And of course, you can use Digsby to connect with your Facebook contacts via Facebook Chat. It’s a great way to stay connected, even when you don’t have Facebook open.