Looks like PlayStation Network, 2K Games and Windows Live accounts have been hacked and it’s gotten every online gamer in a twist.

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When I adopted the internet as a part of my life back in the early years of this millennium, one of the biggest things in town used to be chatting – instant message based conversations that were the new “in”. In fact, if I recall even further back, chat rooms were even a bigger hit, making it possible to meet new people and make new friends using the power of the internet in a very public environment. While that edge may have rubbed off in the last few years, even today, IRC rooms remain popular amongst certain specific communities. The advantage that IM clients held over these chat rooms, however, were the privacy, and the fact that you could control who can contact you etc. There was more customization in how your messages appeared, too, and quite a few other distinctive features.

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Microsoft’s Live Messenger chat platform had been embraced by millions of users around the globe, and over time, it benefitted from a number of design and function iterations, but the Redmond based company has now officially announced that the service will be eventually laid to rest on March 15th of this year. Messenger has been handling online conversations for the last 13 years, but it seems Microsoft is finally ready to retire the veteran platform in favor of migrating its users across to the recently updated Skype service.

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So, what has been foreshadowed and rumored over the past couple of months was recently officially announced by Microsoft in yet another fairly lengthy post on the Building Windows 8 blog: The company will be ditching the Windows Live brand. The products will continue to exist, of course, but they will no longer be under the umbrella of the Windows Live branding; instead, everything will be unified through what is called a Microsoft Account, formerly known as a Windows Live ID. We’ll have SkyDrive, Hotmail, and Messenger as services, which will be accessible on Windows 8 via the SkyDrive, Mail, and Messaging apps, respectively (this begs the question; is the future bleak for the actual Windows Live Messenger client?)

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As I noted in my editorial about what Microsoft should do next with SkyDrive, something that the Windows Live set of services are in dire need of is a redesign. I never was a fan of the current design that they have adopted: With design, it’s often the details that make a world of difference – padding, margins, text – and all of these things are off, resulting in a set of products that lack finesse. So, what can Microsoft do to solve this problem?

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Over the weekend, there were two leaks revealing that a major SkyDrive update is in the works. The first one revealed that SkyDrive will be offering three tiers of additional storage — 20GB, 50GB, and 100GB upgrades to the existing 25GB for $10, $25, and $50, respectively, along with a desktop client for Windows and OS X — and the second revealed that SkyDrive will be getting URL shortening, direct sharing to Twitter, an increase of the individual file limit to 300MB (on par with Dropbox), support for OpenDocument formats, and the ability to manage BitLocker recovery keys. All in all, a pretty major upgrade showing that Microsoft is taking its cloud file storage service seriously.

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If you’ve watched Microsoft concept videos over the years, you probably know how fond the company is of the idea of “Software Plus Services”. Microsoft has always painted it as the ability to preserve local software, while still have it interact with online services in real time. While Microsoft has made quite a few achievements in that area in the past few years, isn’t Apple about to nail it with iCloud?

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It’s been a long time since Microsoft has had a major update for their Windows Live Essentials suite, but now it looks like we don’t have to wait anymore! Microsoft has just made the beta version of the new Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 available for public download. This release has tons of new features and updates over any of the previous releases we have seen.

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Microsoft has finally released the official iPhone app of the world’s largest instant-messaging network (Windows Live Messenger) right for your iPhone and iPod touch. It features all the standard Windows Live stuff like photo sharing, chat and social stream from Windows Live Home.

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This one was due for a very very long time. Hotmail (aka Windows Live Hotmail) users can now push their email straight to any phone like iPhone, Android or Windows Phone as long as they have option to support Microsoft Exchange.

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Microsoft has been rolling out updates for Windows Live services to provide better and new functionality over any of the previous versions. Hotmail’s new makeover is a huge leap to take on different email services, and now Microsoft is taking that even further with their new Windows Live Essentials suite.

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Looks like Microsoft has really heard their users this time! This time they have really come up with some exciting new features which has really made Hotmail far more feature rich, and easier to use. Here are some of the most key changes that has been made to this latest version of Windows Live Hotmail.

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