Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Janet I. Tu.
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September 9, 2013 at 6:39 PM
Microsoft recently released to manufacturing Windows 8.1, the major update to Windows 8 that’s scheduled to launch Oct. 18.
Among the changes coming to Windows 8.1 is the automatic inclusion of Skype built right in
Microsoft gave a glimpse of the pre-release version of Skype for Windows 8.1 in a blog post today. Among the features are the abilities to:
- Answer calls directly from the lock screen
- See missed calls and instant messages
- Choose whether to answer a call with video, audio or an instant message
- Make calls directly from Internet Explorer
The pre-release version of Skype, like the RTM build of Windows 8.1, is available only to Microsoft’s hardware partners and developers and IT professionals who subscribe to MSDN and TechNet.
Microsoft says it’s continuing to refine Skype for Windows 8.1 heading toward the Oct. 18 launch date.
August 19, 2013 at 12:32 PM
Skype is now available for Outlook.com users in six countries including the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
The service, a preview of which has been available since spring, is also now available in Germany, Brazil and France. Microsoft says it’s working to get Skype to other Outlook.com customers worldwide.
July 16, 2013 at 2:55 PM
Microsoft calls on U.S. president, attorney general to let company divulge info on national security requests
Microsoft joined other tech companies in calling on the U.S. government to let the company reveal more information about it handles national security requests for customer information.
In a letter today, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama to get personally involved, saying “the Constitution itself is suffering.”
Smith detailed requests Microsoft had made to be allowed to divulge more information — requests that were either denied or is still being considered weeks after the request was made.”This opposition and these delays are serving poorly the public, the Government itself, and most importantly, the Constitutional principles that we all put first and foremost,” Smith said in the letter.
July 1, 2013 at 9:28 AM
Skype said today its Skype for Android app is now on more than 100 million phones worldwide and launched a redesign of that app.
Skype for Android 4.0 has a cleaner design. It’s also designed to make it easier and faster to start conversations with your contacts, with a list of recent conversations popping up upon opening the app, and being able to open a messaging window by tapping on a person in your Contacts or Favorites tabs, according to Skype.
June 6, 2013 at 5:48 PM
Microsoft is among a list of nine tech companies that The Washington Post, in an investigative report, said “participate knowingly” in an National Security Agency and FBI program that taps directly into the companies’ central servers to get information that can allow analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts.
But several of those companies Thursday evening denied knowing about or participating in the program.
March 21, 2013 at 10:04 AM
There’s been a lot of news lately about law enforcement agencies requesting information from high-tech companies and what those companies disclose.
Microsoft’s Skype, in particular, has drawn attention for reportedly expanding its cooperation with law enforcement in making some user information available, and being the focus of a call by privacy advocates to be transparent about the content it collects and who requests access to it. The issue gained much attention after an American student figured out which terms might trigger blocked messages or surveillance when a user of Skype in China types them into a Skype instant message.
Today, Microsoft addressed some of those issues in the release of its first Law Enforcement Requests Report, which includes data on the number of requests Microsoft received from law enforcement agencies worldwide last year and how the company responded to them. The report will be updated every six months, according to a blog post on the report written by Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel.
Among the highlights in Microsoft’s report:
- Microsoft (including Skype) received 75,378 law enforcement requests for customer information last year. Excluding Skype, Microsoft received 70,665 requests.
- Of those 70,665 requests that Microsoft received, 56,388 (79.8 percent) resulted in the disclosure of non-content data, such as the user’s name, billing address or IP history.
- China is not on the list of countries Microsoft included in its report because countries that made no requests weren’t included. (Skype, which had compiled its data differently, did include China in its report.)
- Of the 70,665 requests, 1,558 (2.2 percent) resulted in the disclosure of customer content, which could include emails, photos stored in SkyDrive, address book information and calendars.
- Of the 1,558 cases where content was disclosed, 99 percent was in response to orders or warrants from U.S. courts. Only 14 were to governments outside the U.S. — specifically Brazil, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.
- Law enforcement requests impacted about 135,000 Microsoft and Skype accounts.
- Skype received 4,713 requests from law enforcement. Skype did not produce content in response to those requests but did provide non-content data such as SkypeID, name, email account, billing information and call detail records, according to Smith’s blog post. The vast majority of the requests came from governments in the U.K. and U.S. (1,268 and 1,154 respectively). China accounted for six of the 4,713 requests.
- Smith writes that less than 0.02 percent of the hundreds of millions of accounts using Microsoft online and cloud services were potentially affected by law enforcement requests.
Microsoft and Skype data are reported separately for the most part in the report because Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011, is based in Luxembourg where EU laws apply, and because Skype had collected the data differently than Microsoft. In the future, such Skype data will be collected similarly to how it’s done in other Microsoft divisions, the company said.
The full downloadable report, along with an FAQ, is available here.
March 13, 2013 at 6:04 AM
Regulators in France contend that Skype is an electronic communications operator yet did not register as such in France, as required by law — opening the door for investigation by Paris prosecutors.
The French regulatory agency, called Arcep, said in a news release that it had requested several times that Skype declare itself as an electronic communications operator but that the company has failed to do so.
A company is not required to get administrative approval before operating as a telecom in France but is required to declare itself as such beforehand, according to the Arcep news release, which adds that failure to do so is a criminal offence. Arcep says it has relayed the facts of the case to prosecutors.
Skype allows users to make voice and video calls over the Internet, using a technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (or VoIP)
e company was started in 2003, and the service has become popular for its free or low-cost local and international voice and video calls. The service runs over the Internet instead of traditional landlines or cellular networks. It uses a technology called voice over Internet protocol, also known as VoIP.
Skype contends it is not an electronic communications services under French law, saying in a statement Tuesday:
Skype is a globally known and used software app that seamlessly enables millions of people to communicate every day via their internet connection. We have engaged with ARCEP in discussion over the last several months during which we shared our view that Skype is not a provider of electronic communications services under French law. We will continue to work with ARCEP in a constructive fashion to seek agreement on a resolution that ensures people, wherever they are, can continue to rely on Skype as they do today.
February 19, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Microsoft said today that Lync and Skype services including voice calls, instant messaging and showing whether a person is available for communication will be connected and available to all Lync users by June.
Lync is Microsoft’s unified corporate communications platform. Skype is the consumer-oriented Internet phone company that Microsoft acquired for $8.5 billion in 2011.
Tony Bates, president of the Skype division at Microsoft, wrote in an official blog post today that: “We’re proud to announce Lync-Skype connectivity for presence, IM and voice will be available to all Lync users by June. This move will begin to enable what we call B2X. B2X places the focus of business communication on enabling human interactions. B2X puts people first and looks at communications in a unified way, not as disparate technology silos focused on one task or protocol.”
Video connectivity for Skype-plus-Lync is coming sometime in the next 18 months, Bates wrote.