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Microsoft-Skype Deal Poised To Win EU Approval

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the it's-a-done-deal dept.

Microsoft 63

Pigskin-Referee wrote in with a story about the EU's approval of Microsoft acquiring Skype. The article reads: "Microsoft's proposed $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype has earned the approval of the European Union, the Financial Times reported Thursday. The European Commissioner for Competition, Joaquin Almunia, is expected to rule that the acquisition won't harm competition or turn Skype into a Microsoft-exclusive platform. The decision ignores accusations that Microsoft is simply bundling services on Windows to drown out smaller competitors, as argued by Italian Skype rival Messagenet last week. Messagenet also urged the Commission to require Microsoft to unbundle Skype from its Windows Office Suite. The FT reports that Microsoft 'promised' the Commission it would keep Skype interoperable and supported on rival operating systems."

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63 comments

Unbundle "Skype" (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636796)

You don't think that microsoft is actually going to use the skype brand in office? No! They already have an IM/voice suite previously known as office communicator, now Lync. What microsoft is going to do is continue to produce Skype skinned IM clients for the masses (powered by Lync), while gutting the IP and integrating skype's P2P voice pathing (and other goodness) in its own products.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (2, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636838)

And one must wonder about the level of Microsoft "support" for Skype on non-Windows platforms. What does that mean, exactly? It could be that new features/versions are released on Windows, and only appear on other platforms after lengthy delays - perhaps just before the next version appears on Windows. More pessimistically, it could mean that there would be few or no new versions or features on many platforms; just fixes for the most egregious bugs in their current version.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (3, Informative)

Gwala (309968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636878)

So.... no different than before Microsoft bought it then.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637092)

Well, all companies care most about their biggest market shares and Windows is a lot bigger than Mac and Linux. But at least they haven't had a corporate interest in making it work better on Windows, it's not like it could possibly get any better. IM and voice is still one of the big social pressures they can use to keep control, I remember having trouble getting and sending files with Kopete and Pidgin on MSN, things were dead slow, disconnected, wouldn't resume and all sorts of crap. Short summary of discussion: "Um.. uh.. let me try something" "Just use MSN" "I can't, I'm on Linux" "Sigh... why can't you use normal software like everybody else??" At least in that sense, Facebook and Google+ are available to everybody and it works the same. But every sort of network that Microsoft can use to keep you in the MS sphere, they will.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637094)

And further, no great loss. If Skype disappeared tomorrow I suspect a portion of that traffic would be replaced with actual SIP, and good riddance.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (3, Interesting)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637232)

Do you have a SIP client that actually works. I mean, other than in a perfectly groomed office environment with fast LAN and correctly allocated IP addresses all the way through to the SIP gateway? I mean, works as in "provides fully encrypted end to end voice with no more configuration than giving a username and password". Works as in "installs for free and almost instantly on Most Linux distros and has an interconnecting client which also works on Windows and Mac". Works as in "you can seamlessly switch on video and/or conference calling during the middle of a call". Works as in "it's very difficult for some stupid ignorant IT guy to turn off the encryption".

I have never actually seen such a thing. If someone could just provide it they would be able to take over from Skype almost instantly.

If you could make this do automated phone number verification and bypass then it would be a great success. Let people register phone number / name pairs; call them back and have them confirm a code (as Google apps does) and then when someone calls their phone number from that client route it directly to them over SIP.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637322)

As long as skype exists, there is little incentive to create the thing you're talking about. But it's like kissing your sister, because what you really want is to be free of any particular corporations for your communications.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37638750)

But it's like kissing your sister

What? Not existing and never existent? I can assure you that Skype most certainly does exist and has done for an infinite-percent longer than my sister ever has.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37639032)

Well Skype does not do all that any how it has not worked for a long time here it a total dog on 64 bit systems always has been now the M$ Corp have got their sticky mits on it might as well completely forget it . most people i talk to have moved to other voip systems away from skype so no great loss

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#37639664)

other voip systems away from skype

Could you please be specific here, with some idea of how happy they are. We are all open to try any one which doesn't suck.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637246)

SIP's great. I have a SIP phone right next to me and I use it every day.

But it's also a nightmare. Between interop issues, ALGs that try to help SIP get past NAT (and fail) - and for that matter NAT itself (I don't like it, you don't like it. Nobody likes it. But it's a fact of life. Get used to it, we're going to be stuck with NAT for some time yet; burying your head in the sand and pretending it doesn't exist doesn't help anyone), it is simply not suitable for deployment in any situation that doesn't involve a specialist to set it up. Which accounts for a significant chunk of Skype usage.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637288)

...just fixes for the most egregious bugs in their current version.

Hmm. Maybe you didn't see that quote at the end of the submission:

"Microsoft 'promised' the Commission it would keep Skype inoperable and supported on rival operating systems." [Note the correction.]

I have used and supported Skype for many years (and still do), but let's be honest: Microsoft's support for the product can hardly be in any way worse than the earlier vendors'. Skype's history is littered with design and implementation mistakes, backed by high-handed, capricious or just plain non-existent support, especially on non-Windows platforms.

If it weren't for the fact that Skype does two basic things quite well (VOIP and IM) in an integrated client, I might have abandoned it long ago. Not to mention the fact that it still occupies a position in the head-space of many of my friends and family.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637308)

One thing for sure it it is implemented on other platforms : a .NET implementation [memearchive.net] . Lengthy delays and meagre number of fixes will be common too.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (2)

cdrnet (1582149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636842)

Indeed, it is much more likely to be bundled with Xbox Live, Windows Live and Windows Phone than with Office.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636868)

Would be nice to have Skype + Kinect. I am waiting for them to make it happen.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637220)

And the robotic arms - don't forget the robotic arms.

Teledildonics will reach mainstream yet!

(But only when it's possible to explain to mumsy what THAT thing is for.)

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637098)

If skype is going to be integrated in office maybe it's this time that a option appear to make all the connections by the system proxy and do not try that p2p behavior.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37638384)

Bimbo Newton Crosby. And after all the guys here complaining that MSFT doesn't "get it" you'd think they'd be happy that it looks like someone there has started to grow a brain. the magic word is "integration" which lets be honest, MSFT hasn't been the greatest on that front in awhile. but if they can tie Skype, WinPhone, Windows, and the X360 all together so that like Apple's products it all "just works" simply and easily for the user? Then Skype will be money well spent.

Of course one thing we've all learned is never underestimate MSFT's ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (killing of playsforsure for Zune Pass for example, PFS was growing like mad and MSFT killed it for a PMP nobody wanted) I'd say hold off final judgement until we can see how well MSFT can integrate Skype into their product lines. The bitch with MSFT is they have all the right pieces to use, such as Windows 7, Nokia making their cell phones, the X360, MS Office, WinServer and now Skype, the only question is do they have the ability to make the whole more than the sum of its parts.

Re:Unbundle "Skype" (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37640280)

> the magic word is "integration" which lets be honest, MSFT hasn't been the greatest on that front in awhile
> the only question is do they have the ability to make the whole more than the sum of its parts.

I would argue Microsoft has NEVER grasped integration the way Apple does, aside from Word/Excel/Powerpoint, and maybe the XBox360.
i.e.
Microsoft is a software company who doesn't understand hardware, nor user experience.
Sony is a hardware company who doesn't understand software, nor user experience.
Apple is both a hardware and software company who understands user experience.

Case in point -- someone INSIDE Microsoft made this MS Parody if they made an iPod -- it sums up the multi-headed hydra of MS perfectly.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeXAcwriid0 [youtube.com]

Microsoft's "success" was never about innovation, but about buying other companies that did all the hard work. MS is just another "me too" company at this point.

Soviet Microsoft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37636806)

In Soviet Microsoft, Skype bundle YOU!

It their promise in writing? (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636902)

It their promise in writing? Or are those just empty words?

Re:It their promise in writing? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636998)

Half-empty words. I doubt MS will want the bad press of simply announcing that non-windows support will be cut, but it's quite possible that they will just reduce resource allocation to those devisions. Linux, OSX, Android et at will still be supported... but only on a nine-month feature delay and full of bugs.

They might just want the technology to improve XBox voice communication. Or perhaps they want such a popular application as Skype to be exclusive to Windows phones, and only the buggy-and-incomplete versions available to the Android and iPhone competitors.

Re:It their promise in writing? (2, Informative)

qbast (1265706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637150)

Actually 9 month delay would be a big improvement for a Linux version.

Re:It their promise in writing? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637320)

Actually 9 month delay would be a big improvement for a Linux version.

Agreed. But the upside is that they haven't seen the need to fuck up the UI like they did with that fugly new Mac version.

Re:It their promise in writing? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37639500)

Even the Android version doesn't support video yet.

Not on my tablet, anyway. Maybe it does on others.

Do you want to bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37636910)

That Linux will not supported in the near future? The mac version will be there and that will be the coverage for their promise. But now I do not care at all. Google+ and Hanghout does have all the feature I need: share screen, multi-conference...

Just like eBay (2)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636920)

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -dna

#ifndef _WIN32 (0)

Vincent77 (660967) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636946)

Developer: "Sir, I have fixed the issue that I could not manage to compile try-catch clausules on Linux". Interoperability is not something MS is good at: it works perfect on Windows, works ok on other systems. Sends us back to the era where Linux-users got sold cars with 3 wheels and the conversation with the salesman became sort of funny. As probably mentioned by others, the latest release of Skype isn't that stable and I have a clue the word "keep" in "keep interoperable" will be a nagging word in the future of Linux-releases.

Not worried about exclusivity (2)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636960)

More worried about MS screwing it up somehow, just like the cliche that every new manager needs to put his "mark" on his new team? I'm worried about paperclips asking me questions, pop up windows asking if I'm "sure you want to really write that IM?", do you "really trust your wife" calling you, and the blue phone of death.
(Did I miss any?)

MS Ribbon... (1)

garatheus (993376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636986)

Not that I dislike the use of the ribbon in the Office productivity tools, but considering MS is bringing it into Windows 8, I wonder if they'll introduce it into Skype? Although one has to wonder, would the functionality / UI warrant the inclusion of it? Somehow, I don't think so.

Re:MS Ribbon... (1)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637142)

The "ribbon" in Office is the solution to menus becoming too large to be manageable for Joe User. Skype does not have that problem (yet).

Re:MS Ribbon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637442)

and the ribbons in WordPad and MSPaint?

Re:MS Ribbon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637776)

and the ribbons in WordPad and MSPaint?

Marketing bullshit and jerking off over new stuff.

The guys who designed the ribbon did a lot of testing and in the end, they explicitly say that it is designed to effectively organise a program with several hundred/thousand features, that there is no reason not to use toolbars and menus in a program which is smaller than that. Of course, not even their own co-workers listened to that part.

Re:MS Ribbon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37640756)

Are in effect big ass toolbars. There's only two tabs. The problem most people have with the Ribbon in office is it moves around features so they find it difficult to use if they're familiar with the old menu. In Wordpad and Paint the ribbon doesn't really hide anything, so the only downside for some people would be that it takes up more vertical space.

Re:MS Ribbon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637580)

Didn't they add this crap to Paint?

Bundled or Integrated? (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637204)

Do the authorities know the difference? When Microsoft decides to discontinue skype, after it has completely been integrated into office of course, will this guy recognize it still exists?

I want my OS with as much stuff bundled in it (1, Troll)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637480)

It must suck to buy a car in Europe.

You have to buy the radio separately. The tires come separate too. They don't even come with seats ... you get to choose the seats from a catalog of producers.

Pretty soon you will have to buy all the car parts, engine, transmission, little nuts & bolts, from various suppliers and build it yourself.

Re:I want my OS with as much stuff bundled in it (3, Insightful)

cluelessTypeOfGuy (957079) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637614)

And you can do it if you wanted. You can do the same thing in N. America. With a car, you have any choice you like. You can build it from scratch (and pay for it) or buy one ready to go.
With software, due to laws, that choice can be taken from you, and Microsoft and likes used that option extensively.

Re:I want my OS with as much stuff bundled in it (2)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637818)

The issue is not the bundling, it is TINA (there is no alternative) syndrome, this was the problem with IE in Europe,

People generally said that they had an icon for "The Internet" on their desktop, this was IE ...This is more like having a radio come with your car, but it is welded in place, and all mass-market cars have the same radio

Whereas now you get a popup when you first use a Windows PC in Europe that asks which browser you want to use, so at least people know they have a choice...

Re:I want my OS with as much stuff bundled in it (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37640846)

it is TINA (there is no alternative) syndrome, this was the problem with IE in Europe

No, the problem the EU had with IE was much different. First, at this point in time IE was already uninstallable from Windows. Second, browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera were readily available and kicking IE in the ass in terms of growth. So how was it the case that there was no alternative and you were forced to use IE?

Re:I want my OS with as much stuff bundled in it (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#37661112)

People (as in general users) were still not aware that there *was* any alternative

People still today refer to the IE icon on the desktop as "The Internet" .. and get confused when it is replaced by Firefox ...

The alternatives were doing well in terms of growth , but not in overall terms .. Growing from almost nothing to slightly significant is large growth, but slightly significant is not exactly dominating ...

Re:I want my OS with as much stuff bundled in it (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37661914)

People (as in general users) were still not aware that there *was* any alternative

Why is that Microsoft's problem? Maybe Mozilla or Google or Opera should run some more ads. It's not Microsoft's job to educate the public about the competing browsers, especially if they're not doing anything to inhibit their performance or ability to be installed. If you want, you can remove practically all traces of IE from Windows.

The alternatives were doing well in terms of growth , but not in overall terms

I don't know how you can say that when both Chrome and Firefox are sitting around 25% global market share [statcounter.com] , and IE has steadily been losing market share for at least 4 years. How can you seriously tell me no one knows about alternative browsers when people have been leaving IE in droves for years now?

Baloney ! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37641986)

How the hell is it anything like that? Did Windows not allow you to connect to mozilla/opera/google's website and download what you want? Why should microsoft be forced to advertise their competition? Or should a government now decide what features a software should have? Maye the entire world should become a socialist hellhole. EU as usual just *LOVES* punishing successful American corporations. Microsoft is not alone in this .. even Google was attacked by the EU for pointless crap.

Considering the crappy adware shit that gets bundled with OEM machines, any browser maker could get their stuff bundled with PCs by signing deals with OEMs. There are no contracts between OEMs and Microsoft that prevent any vendor from doing so in the last decade or so. Show me hard proof (i.e. actual contract or something similar.. not rumors by anti-ms trolls) if you have any.

Re:I want my OS with as much stuff bundled in it (1)

Imbrondir (2367812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637914)

A car where I could choose exactly what I want, from every possible competing producers, with no economic overhead? Like getting integrated navigation systems written by the best of several competitors for a few hundred $ instead of the current 4k $ for a special Audi one?

Sign me up!

WTF? Parent is not a troll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37641876)

Looks like some idiot mod forgot to take his meds again.

If you bundle more stuff in windows people scream antitrust, if you bundle less stuff the linux fanboys claim windows doesn't come with any software. Its quite a tight-rope dance for MS because of their past history.

Microsoft security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637524)

Microsoft, the backdoor to innovation everywhere.

EU has no power over MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637698)

MS switched the Comissioner?
This one just believes is MS says it will do that or not do that. Or does not really believe but does not want to say no to MS, for some reason...

Why there is no real Skype competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637756)

Why , with all the open source software, open standards and all the VOIP shit we got available there is no real competition for skype.

I think that the best idea will be to have voice calls as a service like POP, SMTP, HTTP, etc..So every ISP or company can have their own voice servicer under their domain just like they have their own mail server. And each finally replace the phone numbers with the email id.... and kill two birds with one shot... skype and the pay-by-minute telephony. ...about voice spam??? uhm.. captcha before making the call??

Re:Why there is no real Skype competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37638492)

Most large ISPs (over here in Holland at least) are TELCOs as well...
No sense in having the left side of the company pillage the right side...

Exclusive Platform. (1)

martiniturbide (1203660) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637830)

About "...turn Skype into a Microsoft-exclusive platform." I doubt about it, but with MS you never known. If you checked MS openess strategy, MS on software on premise has the same single-OS strategy. But on Cloud services, MS is allowing a lot of open source software to have more customer base potential running on their cloud. ...even that the message remains the same (Open Source software is good for MS if it runs on MS platform), for cloud services like Skype, I think they will prefer to have the variety of platforms only if they are attached to the MS "sucking money cloud". You can come from this conclusion by watching this MS presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu-FrK2E1Nc [youtube.com]

Re:Exclusive Platform. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37638622)

I don't know anything about OS X, but support of Skype in Linux was always horrible, so I don't think I'll notice any difference.

Skype relaunched as Windows Bing Voice (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37638076)

BOLGIAS 8 AND 9, Seattle, Tuesday (NTN) — Microsoft remains on the bleeding edge of innovation with its completely new-from-the-ground-up Windows Bing Voice [newstechnica.com] Internet phone platform, formerly known as Skype.

Windows Bing Voice was developed entirely in-house at an acquisition cost of only $8.5 billion. “Our developer teams know the meaning of confidentiality,” said Steve Ballmer. “Heck, even they didn’t know it was Skype until today. That’s how, uh, stealth we are.”

The new Windows Bing Voice client will be included with Windows Phone 7, Office 365, Kin and Zune. “Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms! On a case by case time and availability basis, of course. We’ll give our Mac Business Unit developer details for Windows Bing Voice 2011 Ultimate Edition by 2013, for sure.”

Service is expected to remain “at 100%” as the server infrastructure is moved from Linux to Windows, though Microsoft has not specified what that will be 100% of. The peer-to-peer functionality of Skype will also be harnessed to distribute Windows updates and Windows Genuine Advantage serial number blacklists.

Google said that the Google Voice servers were “holding up well” under the influx of new users.

Not for Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37638164)

Why are all the comments about MS bundling/integrating Skype into office? That will never happen. Skype is oinly a useful service because it's ubiquitous: everyone and their. Grandmother (esp their grandmother) has Skype.

MS's competitors are Google and Apple. After many attempts at phones and tablets, Ms is loosing big to both Android and iOS. Skype will be leveraged as an alternative to Google Voice on tablets and Phones. Skype's existing market penetration on these platforms makes it attractive. Expect to see a MS Samsung or MS Verizon deal to bundle Skype on phones or as part of the existing service. MS won't pull Skype from Android or iPhones, though. That would shrink its userbase and lower its value. MS may try to use it to sell phones, but if they can get people using it for call completion and voice. Mail on Android and iPhone, they still win... just not quite as big.

I'm still really worried (1)

atomicxblue (1077017) | more than 2 years ago | (#37638196)

How long will it be before Microsoft decides the Linux version isn't profitable and removes it entirely?

Playstation (1)

Dusty101 (765661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37638234)

... and there goes any faint lingering hope of getting it onto the PS3 as well.

I wonder what they plan to do about Skype on the PSP (& successors)...

rivals (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37638774)

Microsoft 'promised' the Commission it would keep Skype interoperable and supported on rival operating systems.

"we did too keep our promise! there just isn't anything that rivals windows."

i await the Linux port that will never come.

Dear Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37639070)

If there ever was a time to finally open up the FaceTime specifications like Steve promised us, it's now.

Skype will continue to support other systems..... (0)

squash_me_quickly (663285) | more than 2 years ago | (#37640364)

but you'll need both a unique/valid serial key for both MSwindows and an MSoffice to create a new MSN_Skype account. Then won't actually need to be using MSwindows as long as you've bought a licence.... "freedom" Microsoft style :)

promise ? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37646826)

The FT reports that Microsoft 'promised' the Commission it would keep Skype interoperable and supported on rival operating systems."

Is that promised as in "they mentioned it during the talks" or promised as in "they made a binding commitment in writing" ?

Because the former, with corporations in general and with MS in particular, is worth exactly 0.00 â.

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