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There was a pretty cool announcement yesterday over at the Windows Team Blog by Microsoft's GPM, Dick Craddock, on how to set up any existing e-mail account from any service to work in tandem with Hotmail.

Just as the suite of free software packed in the set of Windows Live Essentials has become better and better over time, so too has the feature set of the Windows Live service. The social life of Messenger has become extensively robust - even including a free HD video service that rivals Skype and puts Google's video chat to shame. Mesh and Skydrive leave you with nearly no excuse to not have the files you need or having the Office applications to run or edit them. Finally, Hotmail brings it all together by syncing your Calender and Contacts from multiple accounts and services and keeping you up to date on external services like Flickr, YouTube, Facebook and more - and sorting it for you.

There are plenty of reasons why someone would want to condense their e-mail services. From Microsoft's standpoint, this can get people who are too set on using their current e-mail provider to give Hotmail a try without feeling a jolt of e-mail culture shock. Secondly, it could get people who stopped using Hotmail to come back.
 
We're going to take a quick look at why you should give it a try, or for a lot more of you, why you should try it again. Keep reading after the break as we show you everything you need to know!
 

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The mobile browser battle is heating up again, and Skyfire is bringing it. The release of Skyfire 1.5 brings full-screen action, smoother scrolling and an even deeper experience. Here's the full rundown of what's new:

  • Full VGA Support. Skyfire now provides native support for the VGA and wVGA resolutions as seen on many recent Windows Mobile phones.
  • Smooth Scrolling. Kinetic scrolling has been added to Skyfire. Flick and you will see that scrolling has become very smooth.
  • Finger friendly UI. There are many UI updates to enable finger friendliness, increase the ease of use and add a bit of fun to the Skyfire experience. We updated as well the start page to be simpler-to-use with high-resolution devices
  • Full screen mode. For touch screens we have a mode that will completely remove all UI elements from the screen to provide maximum visibility onto the page. Tap the bottom right corner to bring back the toolbar.
  • Auto-Move text entry. This keeps any text entry box visible when the virtual keyboard is used. This convenient feature assures that web site forms are easy to use, in case the SIP (i.e., virtual keyboard) covers it.
  • Latest versions of Flash 10 and Silverlight. 1.5 has been updated to the newest and most stable versions of both rich-media formats.
  • Performance enhancements.  Both Skyfire’s client and servers have been upgraded for faster, more responsive browsing.

That enough for ya? Check out Skyfire's official video after the break, and download the new version here.

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Hulu and Skyfire still aren't playing together, but at least the video streaming site and the Windows Mobile browser are now explaining why.

Says Skyfire:

Skyfire users have been wondering why Hulu videos are currently not playing in Skyfire. The answer is simple: Hulu has decided to block you from watching Hulu videos in the Skyfire browser, as part of blocking all mobile access to Hulu, as well as TV access such as with Boxee and PlayStation.

There is nothing wrong with your Skyfire browser, and you can watch other videos on the web.

As for Hulu? Well, Skyfire, that helpful bunch, points us to Hulu's reasoning.

For decades, the TV/movie industry has built its business model on a windowing strategy. Content rights are granted for limited time periods across specific distribution channels. For example, a movie starts in theaters, then moves to pay-per-view and DVD, then to pay-cable channels, later to broadcast, and so on down the line. Similarly, TV shows are available on TV first, then in repeats, then to DVD and possibly syndication, etc.

Distribution availability across platforms — theaters vs. TV vs. recorded media like DVDs vs. online streaming vs. mobile phones — was always implicitly or explicitly controlled in that world. But a few factors have made the barriers between those platforms more permeable: the rise of the web, increased broadband
availability, the ease of digitizing video, and the increase in the computing power of devices like gaming consoles, set-top boxes, and mobile phones.

However, in the near-term, the windowing strategy is still dominant in the business. Billions of dollars flow in across these different windows, and entire companies are organized around them. Nothing productive comes from flouting that reality (except to law firms who work on the occasional lawsuit).

Hulu did say "We do, however, expect these windows to converge over time. There's no way around that." Translation: It'll happen; we just have to figure out a way to make more money off of it. (OK, there may well be other licensing issues, too, but that's hardly sexy, now is it?)

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Skyfire and Opera Mini Updated

Making a decision on a next-gen Windows Mobile Browser just got tougher again, friends. SkyFire has been updated to 0.8.5 and the new version brings a few new features. Namely: support for larger screens (hi Touch Pro!) and the best feature of all: an immediate download of the open beta. Just head to http://get.skyfire.com/ to get the SMS punched out to your phone (US and Canada seems to be the focus here, though). Since Skyfire is proxy-based, it is able to render fairly quickly server-side and them push the page out for your zooming pleasure. It's also the best browser for multimedia since it's able to handle most Flash video and media embeds on that proxy server and then send it out.

If you're looking for a simpler proxy-based solution and you have an inexplicable yet abiding love for Java Virtual Machine, you might also be interested to know that Opera Mini is tapping in at 4.2 now with skins, performance enhancements, and some minor syncing abilities with Desktop Opera. Early support for video is here as well, but only for those dirty Symbian users.

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