According to an article on TheTelecomBlog, Microsoft has patented a technology titled ‘Legal Intercept’ that would allow them to eavesdrop on VoIP conversations. From the article:
The technology would allow Microsoft to silently record communications on VoIP networks such as Skype. While some believe it’s no reason to panic, others believe it gives Microsoft or government officials a license to secretly intercept, monitor and record Skype calls while they are doing the unmentionable.
Although the patent was filed before Microsoft acquired Skype, it does explicitly name them in an example.
As for use cases:
Microsoft says that ‘Legal Intercept’ can be used by the US government or “one of its agencies”. If further mentions that this technology would require obtaining “appropriate legal permission”, which might not be that difficult for a government to acquire.
I wasn’t shocked by who may use the technology, but I am concerned if this technology is circumvented for illegal or nefarious purposes.
Computerworld writes that Metro apps for Windows 8 will only be available via the Windows Store (Microsoft’s version of the App Store), and like Apple, Microsoft will take a 30% cut. From the article:
[…]Microsoft confirmed that the Windows Store — the official name for what executives have referred to as “our Windows app store” — will be the sole distribution channel for Metro apps, those that run in the Metro interface in Windows 8 on Intel-powered devices, and the only ones that will be permitted on ARM-based Windows 8 tablets.
Regarding the app vetting process, which in the past has landed Apple in hot water:
Dworkin also told developers that Microsoft will vet each submission and ensure that Metro apps are malware-free. “We will examine every application that will be submitted to us [and] we will run a virus check and a malware check on every application,” Dworkin said.
This quote paints the process as only checking for malware, unlike Apple who also rejects app submissions based on content such as pornography.
According to an article on The Register, Apple’s iCloud service is rumored to run jointly on Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure. I cannot help but wonder if Apple is relying on established, reliable vendors for the initial iCloud launch, and later migrating the service over to their data center in North Carolina when they feel it is ready.
It’s official, Microsoft will acquire Skype for $8.5 billion in cash.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The deal allows Microsoft to integrate Skype’s free and low-cost Internet-based video and telephony services into everything from its Bing search engine to Windows smartphones and its Xbox videogame system. The need to add a communications component is seen as crucial with the growing popularity of Apple Inc.’s Facetime video-chat service and Google Inc.’s Voice.
Is FaceTime really that popular? Although I have it on my iPad and Mac, I always default to Skype for it’s cross-platform support. My only real concern is continued support for non-Microsoft platforms like Linux, Mac, Android and iOS. We use Skype every week for our Unsigned podcast because of its cross-platform support. If this goes away, I will be forced to look for alternatives.
From Microsoft’s press release:
Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms
How well they continue to support non-Microsoft platforms is the question I need answered. I feel that Macs are treated as second-class citizens from Skype today, so can it get any worse? We’ll have to wait and see how this deal turns out.