Microsoft Discontinuing Messenger

Microsoft has announced that it will be discontinuing its Windows Live Messenger on March 15th, 2013. All users aside from those in mainland China will be required to switch to Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011.

As this OnSoftware blog post notes, this is an unusually bold action for Microsoft, which normally puts great effort into maintaining older software.

Some additional information about the switch along with a sample of the mail sent out to Messenger users about the change is up on The Next Web.

Samsung UHDTV at CES 2013

Samsung has unveiled its new 85-inch “Ultra” HDTV. The Samsung UHDTV is not the only one at CES 2013, of course, but it is the focus of this Engadget article.

CES is a major technology trade show held each January in Las Vegas, where major electronics manufacturers commonly debut their latest products. Consequently, the technology press has been overrun by posts covering just about each and every thing on display (see Engadget, CNET, Ars Technica, and just about every other technology-related news site).

Other UHDTVs demonstrated at CES 2013 or announced in the latter part of 2012 include models from Sony (which has just announced two UHDTV models that will “cost less than a car,” reportedly under $12 000), Sharp, LG, Westinghouse, JVC, and Viewsonic.

Windows RT Hacked to Run Desktop Applications

Microsoft’s lightweight version of Windows 8 for tablets and ultra-low-end PCs, Windows RT, has apparently been hacked to allow desktop applications to run, albeit only those compiled for the ARM platform. An article from CIO reports that a hacker known as “clrokr” has developed a method for circumventing Windows RT’s code signing restrictions. This would allow programs other than those from the Windows Store to be run, even those that use the Windows desktop rather than the new Metro UI.

A blog post by clrokr explains the technical details of the hack. The effect is that Windows RT’s “minimum signing level” is adjusted to allow programs to be run that are not digitally signed by Microsoft (or by anyone). This effect is only temporary; UEFI Secure Boot forces the change to be reverted on every reboot, so the hack would have to be reapplied each time the device is powered on. The main limitation, however, is that only software compiled for the ARM processor architecture will run.

Facebook Testing VoIP Feature in Canada

Facebook has recently released an update to its iPhone Messenger app that allows free VoIP mobile calls. Currently the feature is only available on iOS and only in Canada.

Also receiving a lot of coverage recently is Facebook’s new voice message feature, designed for short, one-way messages and available worldwide.

The Toronto Sun gives a brief summary, and references a more thorough article from The Next Web that also discusses the recent release of Facebook Poke as part of Facebook’s larger mobile messaging strategy.