Two of your favorites come together: Skype and Facebook

Announced on the Skype Blog, Microsoft-owned Skype now integrates with (5% Microsoft-owned) Facebook on Mac.  With the update, your Facebook friends will be able to see your online status and Skype you without leaving the Skype application.  As per usual with Microsoft applications, the Mac version trails behind the Windows version…and as a bonus, non-paying Skype users will now see ads.

Today we’re launching Skype 5.4 for Mac Beta. The launch introduces the same Facebook integration found in Skype 5.5 for Windows. We are excited to finally deliver Facebook integration to our Mac users.

Just like in our Windows client, you will now be able to IM and connect with your Facebook friends without leaving Skype. You will also be able to read and update your News Feed, as well as comment and ‘Like’ your Facebook friends’ posts – all within Skype for Mac. To connect to Facebook, simply sign into Skype, click on the Connect to Facebook tab and enter your Facebook sign in details.

Skype 5.4 for Mac Beta.jpg

We are also introducing an advertising platform in this new release, but if you are a paying Skype consumer or have Skype Credit, you won’t see any display ads; similar to the model that is currently being used in our Skype for Windows client.

Download Skype 5.4 for Mac OS X Beta.  We’re sticking to 2.8, in case the snarkiness didn’t tip you off. Read more

VMware Fusion 4 hits, touts improved speed and Lion features

VMware Fusion was upgraded to version 4 today with “over 90 new features” and low introductory $49.99 price. That follows the release two weeks ago of main competitor Parallels with many of the same Lion and speed improvements but heftier $79.99 price tag.

VMware touts three major areas of improvement:

  1. Bring the Magic of OS X Lion to Your Windows Programs. Optimized for OS X Lion including Launchpad, Mission Control, and Spotlight to give the best Windows on Mac experience.
  2. Even More Mac-like. From the installation experience to the redesigned user interface, everything has been refined for the most Mac-like experience when running Windows programs on a Mac.
  3. Better Performance. Faster Graphics. Outstanding Reliability. Turbocharged for today’s multi-core Macs and delivering up to 2.5x faster 3D graphics, VMware Fusion 4 is faster than ever.

Release below:

Read more

Windows 8 tablet gets previewed

Joanna Stern at the Verge does an overview of the Windows 8 Samsung tablet that Microsoft is displaying at BUILD today.

One caveat noticed by DF:

However, fan noise is very noticeable, as is the heat coming out of the top vent, and a fast boot doesn’t excuse the slow wake-up times compared to ARM-based cellphones and tablets.

Tablet devices running Windows 8 should be showing up next year and look to take on Apple’s dominance in tablets with its iPad (which should be on version 3 by then).

Read more

Windows Explorer 8: What happens when you can’t say no

TechCrunch points us to this amusing Microsoft blog post articulating the decision to put just about every possible item in the future Windows Explorer 8 bar.

This is clearly an example of trying to put everything somewhere with no regard for clutter or usability or design. It is hard to imagine a better example of why Apple’s ability to say no to extraneous features is better for usage.

Check the video

Logitech brings K750 solar keyboard over to the Mac side, speaker to iPad

We’ve been pretty envious of the Logitech Solar Wireless Keyboard that has been selling for months now for Windows PCs (though it does work on Macs with key mapping).   Amazon reviewers give it overwhelmingly positive feedback on the PC, it is thin and goes for three months without light.

Today, Logitech announced that a Mac version is on the way.  As a bonus, it is available in 5 colors including black, white and 3 different admittedly ugly pastels.  Interestingly, Logitech is selling it for $20 less than the list price of the $79.99 PC version at $59.99.  So much for the Mac Tax?

Besides the pastels, this product looks like a winner.  Sign us up.

Additionally, Logitech launched a $50 back mounted iPad speaker earlier this week.  It has batteries which last about as long as an iPad and also charges via USB.  I’m not immediately sure if I like this idea or more importantly, the implementation but, there it is:

.

Details below: Read more

Acer CEO J.T. Wang: Microsoft putting 'troublesome' restrictions on Tablets, controlling whole process

More trouble in Microsoft land as Bloomberg reports that Microsoft device manufacturers are complaining about the software giant’s meddling in their affairs:

Microsoft Corp.  is putting “troublesome” restrictions on makers of processors used to run the coming Windows tablet-computer operating system, Acer Inc.  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer J.T. Wang said.

“They’re really controlling the whole thing, the whole process,” Wang said at the Computex trade show in Taipei without identifying the restrictions. Chip suppliers and PC makers “all feel it’s very troublesome,” he said.

Can you even imagine a PC manufacturer standing up to Microsoft publicly in a pre-iPad world?  While Acer is moving to Google for many of their tablet products, and even ChromeOS for one of their notebooks, Acer is still one of the three biggest Windows PC manufacturers on the planet and of course is expected to make Windows 8 slatesRead more

Dell's new 'thinnest' laptop isn't even as thin as the 2.5-year old MacBook Pro

We were expecting a MacBook Air-like device.  It turns out Dell’s new product, dubbed “Thinnest 15-inch PC on the planet” isn’t thinner than the 15-inch MacBook Pro I gave up a year ago for an Air.  That’s the same one that came out with the Unibody manufacturing process in October 2008.

Dell’s 15-inch XPS 15z is .97 inches thick compared to the MacBook PRo’s .95 inches.  It does weigh in at slightly less than the MacBook Pro (which is due for an update soon as well).

Update: Engadget has a comparison gallery:

All of that being said, the XPS 15Z  looks like a solid, loaded Sandy Bridge package for just $1000 – except the Windows OS of course.  Imagery and video below: Read more

Spotify upgrade, faster, auto-play, retina display, more

Good morning, while I apologize to our US readers as Spotify isn’t available in your area yet, for European 9to5Mac visitors news that Spotify has updated its applications for OS X, iPhone (and Windows) could be interesting.

The new version introduces the customary bug fixes, but also adds support for Mac media keys without interfering with iTunes. The new version also supports auto-play for all track links when clicked on from Twitter, Facebook, feed, etc. Existing users will see their install automatically updated in the coming days.

The big news is for iPhone users, Read more

Microsoft Azure is to Cloud Computing…

…what Port25 is to Open Source.

Is it me, or is ‘Azure’ the worst name you possibly could think of for a Cloud Computing initiative? The word Azure reminds people of a cloudless sky, a clear day. A world without clouds.

If you look up Azure in a dictionary, you get ‘cloudless’ over and over again. If you look up ’cloudless’ in a Thesaurus, you get Azure as the #1 synonym. Perhaps this is reverse engineering the Microsoft thought process.

It reeks of Phillip Morris’ nicotine addiction programs or oil companies’ alternative fuel advertising. Blatantly disingenuous.

So, what message is Microsoft, the traditional software company, trying to convey with this naming strategy? I think the answer is as clear as day.