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Microsoft just announced that they’ll be shutting down Windows Live Messenger – what used to be MSN Messenger – for good on March 15th. After buying out Skype in 2011, the software giant has gradually moved its chat userbase over to Skype’s network. Now, the chat network many of us relied on for over a decade is now going to disappear.

That said, odds are you haven’t used Live Messenger in quite some time, if you’re like most of the people I talk to. Facebook, Skype, and mobile messaging apps like WhatsApp have taken over chatting. You may be chatting more than ever, but odds are it’s not on the same network that you used a half-decade ago, and you’re likely not doing it from your computer.

Or are you? That’s what we’re curious about: what chat network do you use the most? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

As all of us who love web apps know, it’s terribly easy to get started using new web apps. Rather than having to download and install an app, you’ll just have to quickly signup (or sometimes, just click a button to try the demo), and you’ll be using the app in seconds. That can be a problem too, though, since you’ll likely end up trying out far more web apps than you end up using over the long-haul.

I personally shift the web apps I use from time to time, and aside from the very most important (WordPress and related apps for AppStorm, Basecamp for collaboration, Gmail for email, contacts, and calendar, and Dropbox), odds are I’m using new web apps all the time. I’ve started using Pocket instead of Instapaper thanks to their new Mac app, and have switched my personal site from WordPress to Kirby CMS. I’ve got hundreds of web accounts in 1Password, but most of them I haven’t used in ages.

That’s why we’re curious what web apps you’ve quit using this year. We’d love to hear about why you’ve switched apps in the comments below!

Chances are most of us have received a gift in the past that we didn’t really like, even if we wouldn’t have admitted it at the time. Even worse, sometimes you might get gift cards for stores you’d never normally shop at, and then you really don’t know what to do with your gift.

That’s why gift registries are a great idea, in theory at least. They let you tell people what you’d like to get, without walking up and really telling them directly, so they’ve at least got a better chance of knowing what you’d like. There’s many ways you can do this: stores usually have their own online registries, and then there’s a number of gift registry web apps, even some we’ve reviewed.

On the other hand, it can be a bit awkward to fill out a gift registry, and can feel like begging to many people. That’s why we’re wondering: have you ever used a gift registry app? Did it feel odd to you? What registry did you use? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

‘Tis the season … for instant replies from your business colleagues that turn out to not be the personal replies you were hoping for. The Christmas season is second only perhaps to the summer for the amount of out-of-office replies you’ll see showing up in your inbox.

Out-of-office replies can be nice in one way, since they let you know that the recipient likely won’t see the email for a while and you’d better contact someone else if the issue is urgent. On the other hand, it can sure get frustrating to send emails only to get a ton of out-of-office replies back.

Do you use out-of-office replies on your email accounts? Do you use them on all of your accounts, or just your business accounts? Do out-of-office replies frustrate you? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

12 years ago, Microsoft announced their newest app: Microsoft Reader. It’d be more surprising if you’ve ever used the program than if you’ve never heard of it, and no wonder. There was hardly any market for eBooks back then.

Fast-forward to today, and there’s an embarrassment of riches in the eBook world. You can buy almost any book you can think of – or get a free copy of older books – in just seconds. Thanks to the great reading devices we have today – smartphones, tablets, ultraportable laptops, and eInk readers – it seems there’s no reason not to use eBooks today. They’re convenient, relatively cheap, and let you start reading almost instantly.

The only problem is, to use eBooks you pretty much have to lock yourself into an ecosystem. Buy a Kindle book, and you’ll have to use a Kindle device or one of their apps to read it. Same goes for B&N’s Nook, Apple’s iBooks, and most other eBook stores. There are a number of publishers, especially tech publishers, who are selling their works DRM free in standard formats, but for the most part, you need to pick an eBook ecosystem and stick with it.

That’s why we’re wondering, what eBook store do you frequent the most? I personally buy DRM-free whenever possible (and prefer to get PDF and ePub copies of books), but when I’m buying a book from a store, it’s always the Kindle store since its apps work everywhere I need. How about you?

Online shopping is far from unusual these days. If anything, it’s more unusual to not shop online. Even on the one day that you can convince people to get out of bed and wait in line for deals at stores, more people than ever are doing their shopping on Black Friday online.

This year, IBM found that online sales on Black Friday increased 20% over last year. If anything, the only time online shopping was unusual was when it was from a desktop or laptop, with 24% of people shopping from a mobile device and 10% from a tablet. From comparison pricing in-store with a smartphone to looking up potential sales before leaving the house to buying an eBook on sell anywhere without going to a store, online shopping is at an all-time high, even on America’s favorite day to go shopping.

That’s why we’re curious about how you did your Black Friday shopping. Did you snag a few online deals, or did you check deals online before heading out to brave the crowds? Did you use any web apps to help you find the best prices? Or would you still rather leave the tech at home and go shopping the old fashioned way? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

When you’re always looking for the greatest new app, sometimes you forget about the awesome apps that power your life. The apps you use day in, day out to make money, stay in touch with family and friends, be creative, stay informed, and more are the most important apps, way more important that that new app that might come out tomorrow and just might revolutionize your life … or not.

Funny thing is, apps that you use all the time can fade into the background, and you’ll almost never think about them. It’s easy to take for granted the apps we use most. From your web browser to your bookmarking app, there are apps you use every day without thinking about it, but you’d be hard pressed to live without them.

Today’s Thanksgiving in America, which makes a great time to stop and think of the things you’re grateful for, no matter where you call home. Our team has rounded up some of the apps we’re thankful for this year, and we’d love to hear from you. What Mac apps are you the most thankful to have around this year? Perhaps an older app that’s stood the test of time, or a newer app that’s recently become essential to your workflow. Either way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Microsoft’s recently released Windows 8 brought one of the most drastic changes to user interface design that many of us have ever seen. Doing away (for the most part) with traditional UI elements, Windows 8 emphasizes text and colors in a “natively digital” way that’s unique, at the very least. It’s exciting to see Microsoft try something totally new, and fun to see developers making new PC apps again.

Interestingly, the Windows 8 design (formerly known as Metro, now referred to as Modern UI or Windows 8 UI by Microsoft) has already started influencing web apps. It wasn’t surprising to see Microsoft’s own Outlook.com and Skydrive sport the new UI design. What is surprising is how many new web apps we’ve come across with Windows 8-inspired designs, including the PDF editor PDFZen and Fotor, a simple photo editing app. The Metro design translates well to the web, and with so many PC users making the switch to Windows 8, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more apps sporting similar designs.

Problem is, everyone doesn’t like the Windows 8 design. What’s your opinion of Windows 8′s design, and are you looking forward to seeing more apps sport the clean font+color only design?

Evernote released a new beta Mac app today, which has many of us trying out Evernote again. Evernote has been extremely successful, being easily the best known notes app on any platform. You can snap pictures on your phone, write out a store list, store a PDF eBook, and jot down some important class notes, all in the same app. Thanks to Evernote’s OCR-powered search, you can find anything you’ve saved in seconds.

Evernote’s free by default, but it limits you to 60Mb of uploads per month on free accounts. If you’re uploading pictures and scans every day, you’d hit that limit pretty quick, but otherwise, you’d be hard pressed to hit the limit. The pro upgrade gives some other features, such as searching inside PDFs and an ad-free interface, but for the most part, you can get much of Evernote’s power without ever upgrading.

We know many of our readers are Evernote fans, so we’re curious: did you upgrade to Evernote Pro? What made you decide to pay for the upgrade? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Most web apps are aimed at text-centric productivity: word processing, email, notes, project management, chat, and such. Then, there’s a special category of web apps that go far beyond what you’d expect from a web app, making your browser turn into apps that could rival Adobe’s Creative Suite. It seems the bar would be far to high for new advanced photo editing apps, but just this week, we looked at Photo Raster, an exciting new full-featured photo editing web app that’s currently in beta.

There’s tons of options for editing photos online, from apps like Adobe’s Photoshop Express which lets you do some basic edits, to more advanced apps like Sumo Paint that’d let you create new images online. Apparently, it’s tough to make a business out of advanced multimedia web apps, though, because the front-runner in advanced web apps, Aviary, recently shut down its pro web apps, focusing instead on light editing that others can embed inside their own apps.

I personally could never get into using Aviary’s apps, or other very advanced multimedia web apps, as much as I liked them. The main problem is that it takes extra time and steps to upload pictures, then edit them and export them back to your computer, only to upload them again to WordPress to use in an article. I do basic cropping on images in Facebook and other apps all the time, but that’s the extent of photo editing I do online. For everything else, I use Preview or Photoshop CS6 on my Mac.

How about you? Were you frustrated when Aviary’s pro apps were shuttered, and do you still use advanced multimedia web apps?

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