Breakfast Briefing: MS to shoot Messenger, election to break Twitter, Surface’s shrinking storage

Today’s top technology breakfast bites include the reported death of Messenger, how election day will break Twitter, the Surface’s shrinking disk space and a return to the 80s with a remake of Elite.

Breakfast Briefing: MS to shoot Messenger, election to break Twitter, Surface's shrinking storage

Windows Live Messenger dead?

The Verge’s avid Microsoft watcher, Tom Warren, reports that the company is to fold its long-standing IM client, Windows Live Messenger, in favour of Skype. The two share many of the same features, and Warren reports that the back end of the two services have already been merged, with around 80% of the instant messages sent via Skype actually running over Live Messenger. Logins for the two services have also been linked in Windows 8 clients.

“The company will announce the retirement of Windows Live Messenger soon, possibly as early as this week according to sources,” Warren claims.

How Election Day Will Break Twitter

Will you be watching the US election coverage tonight? If so, chances are you’ll be pairing the TV punditry with regular peeks at Twitter – or at least trying to. Buzzfeed makes the point that although Twitter may now have the experience and the infrastructure to cope with what will surely be the busiest day in its history, we as users may suffer from the extra traffic. Well, American users at least.

During the first debate a month ago, “pundits and politics writers were racing to set an early narrative; reporters were live-tweeting the candidates’ every utterance. Seemingly everybody else, able or not, made jokes.”

If you followed a lot of US political types, your feed will have accelerated rapidly – sometimes to the point where it became unreadable. And that was just a debate. If there’s ever a night that will force you to finally sort out your Twitter lists, Tuesday 6 November might just be it.

Surface’s shrinking disk space

That 32GB version of Surface running Windows RT might sound like it’s got space aplenty for digital media and films for those long flights, but scratch the, er, surface, and Microsoft reveals there’s only actually 16GB of free space. The missing capacity is explained by Microsoft, partly as being for the operating system, apps and recovery tools, but also because of mixing and matching metrics.

“The advertised local disk size is shown using the decimal system, while Windows displays the disk size using the binary system,” the company explains. “As a result, 1GB (in decimal) appears as about 0.93GB (in binary). The storage capacity is the same, it’s just shown differently depending on the how you measure a GB (decimal or binary).” Which is a great explanation for a consumer device.

The better news for Microsoft is its tablet is more profitable than the iPad. Research from ISS iSuppli reveals that the total cost of parts and labour for the Surface RT weights in at $284 for the $599 version of the device. “From a hardware perspective Microsoft has succeeded with the Surface, offering an impressive tablet that is more profitable, on a percentage basis, than even the lucrative iPad based on current retail pricing,” the company said.

Oh, and that $100 keyboard cover that everyone thinks is too expensive? That costs between $16 and $18 a unit to make, according to the research.

How that New York Magazine cover was shot

Sandy caused huge devastation, but it also produced some truly remarkable photography. The picture that caught most eyes was the amazing New York Magazine cover, which showed vast swathes of Manhattan blacked out among pockets of power and light. It was taken by Dutch architecture photographer Iwan Baan, “using the new Canon 1D X with the new 24-70mm lens on full open aperture. The camera was set at 25,000 ISO, with a 1/40th of a second shutter speed.”

Explains this article over at Poynter, “it was more difficult to rent a car than a helicopter in New York the day after Sandy, Baan said. And because there was such limited air traffic so soon after the storm, air traffic control allowed Baan and the helicopter to hover very high above the city, a powerful advantage for the photo.”

Elite back in the frame via Kickstarter

OK, so we don’t normally cover gaming news, but we figured that readers with rose-tinted 80s style glasses would be interested in the fact that David Braben, one of the original creators of the space trading hit Elite, is making an update. Braben is seeking £1.25 million in Kickstarter funding, with contributors offered the option of shaping the direction of the new version – titled Elite: Dangerous. Given the success of the original it’s hard to see the need for Kickstarter funding, but the developer explained to the BBC that the industry has changed shape.

“It’s the sort of game which is very hard to make through the traditional publishing process – because publishers want to see the end result before they move forward,” said Braben. “The sort of games that do get made tend to be sequels to games that have been very recently successful so you get lots of games that look the same.”

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