Free Mobile Chat Apps Slowly Overcoming SMS

Highly popular mobile chat apps for smartphones are slowly replacing traditional SMS text messaging.

The Next Web describes the results of Informa research suggesting that while SMS messaging is by no means dying (usage continues to grow), it is being replaced by free mobile messaging apps. Eventually, the assumption is that SMS will disappear altogether, but the continued increase in usage numbers means that this will not happen for quite some time. At the same time, free mobile messaging already exceeds SMS usage and the gap between them is only expected to grow.

The continued usefulness of SMS can be attributed to its universal availability and the fact that the majority of mobile phones in use today remain “dumb phones.”

Dropbox Rebrands its Enterprise Product

Dropbox has announced that it is rebranding Dropbox for Teams, its product aimed at large enterprise, as Dropbox for Business.

The idea, according to TNW, is to get the message out that this Dropbox product is meant to handle hundreds or thousands of employees rather than the ten or so that the word “team” implies.

In addition to the branding change, Dropbox is also working on Single Sign On and Active Directory integration, which will make it much more desirable for large IT departments.

Microsoft Azure Outage Caused by Expired SSL Certificate

A worldwide outage of the Microsoft Azure cloud storage service was caused by the expiry of an SSL certificate on Friday, according to reports. This comes on the heels of a week-long outage of an SQL server component of the Azure service.

The news was reported in a number of outlets, including Slashdot, which cites articles from the San Francisco Chronicle, Yahoo, and the Register. PCWorld reports that service was restored on Saturday.

US DMCA Unlocking Exemption Expires

The unlocking exemption from the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), previously maintained by the Librarian of Congress, has been allowed to expire. Unlocking a smartphone in the United States that was purchased after October 28, 2012 is therefore now illegal. For now, unlocking remains permitted in Canada.

Digital Trends has a question-and-answer article that describes the situation and what it means for American smartphone users.

Belkin Buys Linksys

Belkin has announced a deal to take over the Linksys brand from Cisco, which has owned Linksys since 2003. Engadget provides a copy of Belkin’s press release along with a brief summary, noting that Belkin intends to continue support for Linksys customers. CNET also mentions that Cisco has dropped some other consumer-oriented products from its portfolio as well, and appears to be concentrating on its core enterprise products.

Office 2013 Pricing Announced

Microsoft Office 2013 pricing has been announced, the first to include a monthly subscription option. Microsoft’s licensing and pricing, especially for “Enterprise” software products, can be Byzantine, so it comes as little surprise that the first version of Office to have both boxed and Software-as-a-Service options will be available in no less than nine distinct editions: University, Home Premium, Home & Student, Small Business Premium, Home & Business, Midsize Business, Standard, Enterprise & Government, and Professional Plus.

The Next Web compares Office 365 to Office 2013 in an attempt to unravel the pricing knot. The conclusion is that total cost will end up being much greater for the Office 365 service for everyone but students, assuming a life cycle of 36.5 months, though a reader of the linked article has pointed out that Office 365 includes five licenses compared to Office 2013’s two.

There are alternatives to Microsoft Office altogether. Historically Apache (formerly Oracle, formerly Sun) OpenOffice has been the preferred Office replacement, but recently LibreOffice (actually an OpenOffice fork) has emerged as a strong competitor. Both are free, open source software and are capable of reading and writing Microsoft Office formatted files as well as exporting documents directly to PDF.