Microsoft is turning Skype into its own version of iMessage in Windows 10

Microsoft is integrating Skype directly into Windows 10, and the result looks a lot like Apple’s iMessage service. While the company unveiled some of its Skype integration at a special Windows 10 press event in Redmond yesterday, the software maker didn’t show its new Messaging app on the PC version of Windows 10. This appears to be key to a new experience for Skype messaging in Windows 10, and it brings back the built-in Messaging app from Windows 8 that Microsoft killed with the Windows 8.1 update.

SKYPE IS STARTING TO LINK USERNAMES TO MOBILE NUMBERS

The new Messaging app works by integrating Skype, allowing you to chat to Skype contacts or initiate video / audio calls. All the conversations are synced between PCs, tablets, and phones, and the new app looks like a lightweight version of Skype. It’s also identical to the Messages app on OS X, with the same two-panel interface and circular UI for contact photos. Microsoft has started linking Skype usernames with mobile numbers to make it easier to find friends who are using the service without having to know their user ID. That makes this whole approach a lot more like iMessage, allowing Skype users to chat to friends easily on the service. The main difference is that Skype is cross-platform so you can chat to friends on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, and more, while iMessage is limited to Apple’s platforms.

The built-in Skype experience on the phone version of Windows 10 also allows you to send text messages, but it’s entirely possible (and likely) that Microsoft will extend this functionality and sync state to the PC version just like iMessage. In Microsoft’s new world Windows 10 apps are the same across PCs, phones, and tablets, so such a move would be expected. Microsoft isn’t fully detailing its Messaging app plans just yet, but it’s encouraging to see the company move to a more native and simple integration of Skype instead of separate and unnecessary apps. All that’s needed now is the complexity of usernames to fully disappear so everyone can use Skype just with their mobile number.

The internet, the perfect tool for the surveillance state? Further reading (and watching) on the state of digital privacy

TED Blog

“We already knew this.” “It’s necessary for the War on Terror.” “Other countries are doing it too.” “But I have nothing to hide.” These are the most common reasons people express for not feeling outrage over the revelations this year that the United States’ National Security Agency has been involved in widespread surveillance. [ted_talkteaser id=1861]In today’s blistering talk, security expert Mikko Hypponen shares why he is hopping mad about the NSA’s actions, and why every user of the internet should be equally enraged. Because at the end of the day, he says, these rationalizations obscure a shocking fact: because the world relies on American companies for its information needs, virtually every user of the internet is being watched.

Digital privacy is, obviously, something on many of our minds. Below, a collection of articles, think pieces, op-eds and TED Talks on the state of digital privacy, some that echo Hypponen’s…

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Are you being tracked? A TED Fellow on how law enforcement follows your movements, and why you should care

TED Blog

Catherine-Crump-CTA-imageDid you know that across the United States, cameras are automatically taking pictures of your car’s license plate as you drive by, recording your plate number and your locations over time? In a chilling talk given at TEDGlobal 2014, civil liberties lawyer and TED Fellow Catherine Crump called attention to the ubiquity of mass surveillance technology currently being deployed without public awareness, laws governing its use or privacy policies regulating what happens to the data being collected. (Watch the talk, “The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you.”)

Crump tells the TED Blog more about her work, and the technologies that are quietly threatening the privacy and civil liberties of innocent people.

You are a civil liberties lawyer with many different strands to your work, but in the talk you gave at TEDGlobal, you focused on automatic license plate reader technology. Why did you choose that topic?

I think…

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10 steps to tame your email inbox and keep chaos at bay

Awesome email tips

TED Blog

InboxZero

Just like you, we at TED get inundated with email. And just like you, many of us think of an overflowing inbox as a guilt-inducing, anxiety-laden reminder of things left undone.

As TED’s User Experience Architect, I like my inbox the same way I like my designs: simple, orderly, and communicating clearly what to do next. Many people have no problem with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of unread messages in their inbox; if that’s you, you can stop reading now. But if you’re like me, unread email gives you stress — and it pretty much ensures important things will fall through the cracks.

Here is how I keep my inbox at (or near) empty at all times. Be forewarned: this plan isn’t easy, but it works. I’ve been doing it for years with success, and I’ve helped others — in fact, many on TED’s tech team — do the…

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