What do the majority of web developers and an Australian-based online retailer have in common?

They hate Internet Explorer.

In fact, a company by the name of Kogan hates IE so much, it’s imposed a sales tax on any of its clients who use the beleaguered browser.

“Anyone who visits the website using IE 7 will be charged an additional 6.8% tax (IE tax) on purchases,” explains Newslaunches.com. “Interestingly that figure is derived as 0.1% for each month since the browser was released.”


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TechForum is a Microsoft-sponsored shindig where the company can get together, party, and then show off its latest and greatest research projects. First up we’ve got a transparent interactive 3D display which builds on technology from Cambridge University’s HoloDesk project. Next is Holoflector, a “magic mirror” that overlays LCD projections onto your reflection. Both of these two projects rely heavily upon Kinect as more projects find the potential in the little sensor. Finally there’s Illumishare, a pair of overhead projectors / cameras that share a desktop space with a colleague when you need to look at the same thing.


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Carrier IQ has recently found itself swimming in controversy. The analytics company and its eponymous software have come under fire from security researchers, privacy advocates and legal critics not only for the data it gathers, but also for its lack of transparency regarding the use of said information. Carrier IQ claims its software is installed on over 140 million devices with partners including Sprint, HTC and allegedly, Apple and Samsung. Nokia, RIM and Verizon Wireless have been alleged as partners, too, although each company denies such claims. Ostensibly, the software’s meant to improve the customer experience, though in nearly every case, Carrier IQ users are unaware of the software’s existence, as it runs hidden in the background and doesn’t require authorized consent to function. From a permissions standpoint — with respect to Android — the software is capable of logging user keystrokes, recording telephone calls, storing text messages, tracking location and more. It is often difficult or impossible to disable.

How Carrier IQ uses your behaviour data remains unclear, and its lack of transparency brings us to where we are today. Like you, we want to know more. We’ll certainly continue to pursue this story, but until further developments are uncovered, here’s what you need to know.


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Microsoft’s Office Division President, Kurt DelBene shared a concept video of how our lives will improve with technology advancements that are just around the corner. He says they create these videos to help tell the story they see unfolding in technology, and how it will impact our lives in the future. The video shows Microsoft’s vision for a future where technology extends and highlights our productive capabilities; it helps us manage our time better, focus our attention on the most important things, and foster meaningful connections with the people we care about.

All of the ideas in the video are based on real technology. Some of the capabilities, such as speech recognition, real time collaboration and data visualization already exist today. Others are not yet available in specific products, but represent active research and development happening at Microsoft and other companies.


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The successor to Windows 7 may soon greet the masses

One of the major keys to Windows 7′s great success and massive rebound from the disappointment of Vista was the incredibly popular public beta test program that launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2009. Two years later Microsoft is well on the way to releasing the successor to the popular Windows 7, Windows 8, and it’s reportedly preparing for a new beta program.

Softpedia reported last week that it received “Windows 8 Build 6.2.7959.0 Milestone 3 (M3)”, an important preliminary build. Compiled March 7, 2011 (based on the name string of the full build of the release), if authentic the build indicates that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is closing in on Build 8000 — typically the build at which it launches a beta.


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Two reliable sources say Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is talking to Skype about either buying the company or forming a joint venture, according to Reuters.

One of the sources said Facebook is considering a buyout of Skype at a price of between $3 billion and $4 billion. The other source told Reuters the deal won’t be a purchase by Facebook but rather a joint venture between Facebook and Skype.

Skype and Facebook are no strangers. In October, when Skype released its version 5.0 software for Windows, it included a Facebook tab that let users chat or call Facebook friends via Skype, right from the Facebook newsfeed that can be viewed from within the Skype application. At this point, details are still hazy and rumor-infused, though it’s certainly not shocking to hear these kinds of murmurs buzzing around. Skype’s been integrating Facebook more deeply into its software for a while now and has gradually branched out to Android, as well (albeit with mixed results). Both Facebook and Google would also stand to benefit from Skype’s millions of users and all the targeted advertising potential they’d offer.

Update: while Facebook and Google were contemplating on the amount, Microsoft have finalized a deal acquiring Skype for whooping $8.5billion in cash!


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TheRastari” has installed every version of Windows starting with DOS 5.0 and Windows 1.0 (which was basically just Explorer paired with one heck of a crummy text editor) to Vista and Windows 7 inside a VMWare instance, offering us a fascinating look at Windows versions since the early 1990s.

One interesting point: the first installs took a few minutes while the Windows 98 install took an hour and a half and the intervening upgrades took a between 45 minutes and an hour. You’ll also notice the clever tricks the various versions used to maintain previous settings including the backgrounds and program groups. Vista took a nice, healthy two hours to install! As for the backwards compatibility, Windows 7 maintained a great deal of early Windows programs, which suggests that today you can run 20-year-old Microsoft’s applications. Amazing!


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Microsoft Research had its TechForum event yesterday where it showcased some of it’s latest projects to the press. Windows Phone 7 happily took the center stage this year in several demonstrations. In the first video after the break you will see Microsoft Chief Research and Technology Officer, Craig Mundie, demonstrated a new UI controlled by an HTC HD7. This may or may not be what we can expect to see in the upcoming Windows 8 but it definitely shows us where Microsoft is heading with regards to UI and NUIs.


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Kinect working on Android, rains on Microsoft's WP7 parade

Windows Phone 7 is getting a lot of extensions this year and, while Kinect interoperability is not anywhere near as important as third-party multitasking, it could be fun. Still, there haven’t been a proper Kinect interop, the sort that would see you controlling WP7 games with a Kinect – the sort that is apparently possible on Android. YouTuber HirotakaSter has managed to hook a Kinect up to Android hardware, what looks to be an Armadillo 500 FX development platform, and get everything to play nice. He’s using openFrameworks and, while at this point the software isn’t doing much other than showing a video stream from the camera, the possibilities from here are quite simply infinite.


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Hotmail Alias

Hotmail Aliases let you create multiple, “disposable” e-mail accounts that all filter back to your primary one. This is something that you can do on Yahoo, but there you have to pay extra for Plus service and, while Gmail will let you create unique addresses too, there you can only add an extension to your existing handle. Here you’re free to create anything you want.


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Our French colleagues became bored one day and decided to write an application to control the AR.Drone. What’s more, they utilized their new Microsoft Surface to act as the world’s biggest remote control. They’ve integrated live feed from both on-board cameras (front-faced and downward) for extremely easy landing/takeoff and navigation… around their office. Google-translated version from their site:

We started with the idea of making a cockpit for the drone and fly it from the touch interface of the table So we downloaded the SDK for Win32 ARDron and after we developed a suitable layer in .Net. Then we brought in a Designer and Interactive Designer for prototyping the interface, and finally released the application in WPF. All that’s left was to compile and play with the drone on the Microsoft Surface table.


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