Gmail Overtakes YahooMail in India

October 14, 2009

According to ViziSense, an online audience measurement and analytics provider platform, Gmail, Google’s free e-mail service is now India’s largest free e-mail service provider with more than 18 million users. Yahoo Mail, which held the top spot until the previous month has now been relegated to the second spot.

Yahoo Mail boasts of 16.8 million unique users and has seen its usage dip 8 percent since August this year. This, coupled with Gmail’s continued growth which averaged 3 percent since August, has ensured that Gmail surpassed the number of Yahoo users in early October. Microsoft’s Windows Live Mail too is seeing a surge in its userbase with it managing a very impressive 8 percent growth in India since August. Rediff Mail is at number three with 6.25 million users.

However, on the global scale, it might be a while till Gmail usurps the throne from Yahoo to be the world’s largest e-mail provider. Besides, it also has another adversary to counter, Windows Live Mail from Microsoft which is right up there at number 2. As seen in a recent ComScore report, Gmail has been growing pretty fast in U.S. as well– and unless Yahoo and Windows Mail don’t do something drastic, Gmail, in its current form, will eclipse the “traditional” webmail providers in the years to come.

Incidentally, it was just last week that Yahoo carried a full front page ad across leading national dailies in India. Was this an attempt to woo its once loyal users who have started migrating to Gmail?

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Microsoft leaks details of Windows 8 and Windows 9

October 8, 2009

Microsoft is planning to make Windows 8 an 128-bit operating system, according to details leaked from the software giant’s Research department.

The discovery came to light after Microsoft Research employee, Robert Morgan, carelessly left details of his work on the social-networking site, LinkedIn.

The senior researcher’s profile said he was: “Working in high security department for research and development involving strategic planning for medium and longterm projects. Research & Development projects including 128-bit architecture compatibility with the Windows 8 kernel and Windows 9 project plan. Forming relationships with major partners: Intel, AMD, HP and IBM.”

Morgan’s LinkedIn profile has now been pulled down, but a version remains in the Google search cache.

A move to 128-bit support would be a bold move for Microsoft. Many, including PC Pro’s own Jon Honeyball, were urging Microsoft to make Windows 7 64-bit only, but the company continues to offer a 32-bit version of the forthcoming OS.

Microsoft has said very little publicly about Windows 8, although on a visit to the UK earlier this week, CEO Steve Ballmer denied rumours that Windows 7 would be the last major client OS the company produced. Ballmer admitted that planning was underway on Windows 8, although it’s highly unlikely that the OS will arrive until 2012 at the earliest.

Morgan’s talk of planning for Windows 9 supports Ballmer’s claim that the company thinks there is plenty of life left in Windows yet.


Google’s new search engine, Caffeine

August 12, 2009

Google Inc is working on a new test version of its search engine, which the company claims will be faster and more relevant than ever before. The company has dubbed the new search engine “caffeine”.

Look-wise, the new engine doesn’t appear different, but its developers hope that the technology they have used will noticeably index new content faster.

Google engineers are said to have invited web developers to test the new search engine, and give their feedback. Matt Cutts, a principal engineer at Google, and Sitaram Iyer, a staff software engineer, have posted an entry on the company’s webmaster central blog, appealing to developers to try the newly improved service and send them some feedback.

“For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search. It’s the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions,” the Telegraph quoted them as having written on the blog.

“The new infrastructure sits “under the hood” of Google’s search engine, which means that most users won’t notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we’re opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback,” they said.

A Google spokesperson added: “”Google is always working on new technologies to improve the quality of our search services. We hope this new system will improve search in the areas of speed, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.”

Martin McNulty, director of search marketing specialist, Trafficbroker, who has tried the new version, said: “Google’s caffeine is undoubtedly faster, almost twice as fast at times. It’s like a Google GTi. Caffeine may be ‘under the hood’ but with this noticeable injection of speed it won’t remain under the radar for long. As for accuracy, it’s hard to say at this early stage but Google is clearly upping its game by including real-time results and more breaking news, as well as updates from the likes of Facebook and Twitter.”


Ford India launches Ikon variant

August 10, 2009

Ford India today announced the launch of a new variant of Ford Ikon — the iKool — at a price starting from Rs 4.82 lakh (ex-showroom, New Delhi) which will be available across the country from Wednesday.

“Starting August 12, the Ikon iKool will be available at Ford dealerships across India at an aggressive price of Rs 4.82 lakh (petrol) and Rs 5.42 lakh (diesel), ex-showroom, New Delhi,” the company said in a statement.

It said the Ikon iKool models have Duratorq TDCi 1.4 diesel and ROCAM 1.3 petrol engines that offer “class leading” fuel efficiency.

“Its new feature rich persona along with legendary driving characteristics will appeal to the upwardly mobile and ambitious customers who want their car to complement their active lifestyles,” Ford India Executive Director (Marketing, Sales and Service) Nigel Wark said.


Targeted Twitter user blames Russia

August 8, 2009

The Georgian blogger whose Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts were targeted in denial-of-service attacks on Thursday, says he thinks Russia’s federal security service is behind it.

“This hackers was from Russian KGB,” the blogger, who uses “Cyxymu” on his accounts, wrote in a tweet early on Friday, adding later: “My twitter is online! Thank you all for support after ciber attack from Russia!”

Because of the difficulty in tracing distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks back to the source, unless someone takes credit for the attack or brags about it to online associates, it’s nearly impossible to determine exactly who was responsible.

Cyxymu is identified as a 34-year-old economics lecturer named Georgy from Tblisi, Georgia, by The Guardian. His blog postings are critical of Russia’s dealings with the Caucasus region and his screen name is a Latinized version of the spelling of Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, a breakaway Georgian republic.

“Maybe it was carried out by ordinary hackers but I’m certain the order came from the Russian government,” he is quoted as saying. His LiveJournal account was attacked last year, as well, according to the report.

The DDoS attacks came on the eve of the one-year anniversary of a significant military clash between Russia and Georgia, which have had an ongoing conflict. In the 2008 South Ossetia war that began on August 7, 2008, Georgia attempted to retake control of South Ossetia and Russia launched air strikes against Georgia.

“When the war started in South Ossetia last year I couldn’t avoid being drawn into politics,” the blogger said.

The Georgian government is investigating potential links between its citizen and the attacks, and there are suspicions that the attack came from Russia, Shota Utiashvili, head of the Department of Information and Analysis at the Ministry of the Interior, told CNN.

Twitter was down for hours on Thursday during the attack, and LiveJournal suffered an outage. Facebook, and Google–whose Blogger, Google Sites, and YouTube were also affected–were able to fend it off.

Whoever was behind the attack may also be responsible for a spam e-mail campaign launched before the DDoS attack and targeting the blogger’s accounts. In that attack e-mails were sent out that looked like they came from the blogger and included hyperlinks to his accounts on the targeted sites. A Facebook spokesman and others said that a spam attack would not have been effective enough to cause a DoS outage.

On his Blogger account the Georgian posted a copy of a Russian language news article in which he himself says the spam attack did not cause the DDoS attacks.

The Cyxymu accounts were back up on Friday on Twitter and Facebook (where he’s a fan of John McCain), but his LiveJournal account appeared to still be inaccessible though a cached version was available on Google. His YouTube account, meanwhile, never went down.


Wikipedia Sees a Drop in Contributions

August 6, 2009

Wikipedia has become one of the biggest sites in the world and many users rely on it almost everyday either for school and even research, but also other less educational purposes. It’s hard to imagine how the web looked like before Wikipedia, but a new study revealed some troubling statistics showing that the site had mostly stagnated in recent years, with contributions dropping about a third since 2006 when their numbers peaked.

“It’s easy to say that Wikipedia will always be here,” Ed Chi, a computer scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center, told New Scientist. “This research shows that is not a given.” Eight years after it launched, the web resource houses some three million user-contributed articles. But the growth in the number of new articles reached its peak three years ago, when 60,000 new pieces were submitted per month, and the trend has since turned negative, with about 40,000 new articles being added today.

The number of edits to current entries flattened out in 2007, when they reached their maximum, and have since stayed at about 5.5 million per month. The number of active editors also peaked that year and has since stayed at about 750,000 per month.

The research also provided a possible explanation for the waning interest, as regular contributors have become more important both in the number of contributions, but also in exercising their powers. The data showed that “occasional” contributors, those with just one edit per month, had their changes reverted or deleted 25 percent of the time, and the number has risen for the more frequent contributors as well, with those making less than ten changes per month having their edits reverted 15 percent of the time.

However, while the data may be accurate, the interpretation may not be the only one, with others attributing the high number of deleted or reverted edits to the increasing level of spam on the site. The decreasing number of new articles may also be a natural effect of the size of Wikipedia, as new content is becoming increasingly scarce, while also increasing the importance of edits versus new entries.