Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Microsoft agrees to buy Skype for $8.5 billion

Microsoft has agreed to buy Skype for $8.5 billion, the companies announced Tuesday.

The companies’ CEOs, Steve Ballmer and Tony Bates, will host a press conference later Tuesday to give details of the acquisition.
The boards of both companies have agreed to the deal, which will see Bates reporting directly to Ballmer as president of the Microsoft Skype division, illustrating the importance of the deal to the company.

Once the merger is complete, Microsoft plans to add Skype support to its Xbox and Kinect gaming devices and Windows Phone mobile operating system, and connect Skype users with its own Lync, Outlook and Xbox Live communications services.

Over the last week, the voice and video communications company had been rumored to be discussing an acquisition or partnership with Cisco, Facebook and Google.

Founded by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, Skype was bought by eBay in 2005. After that company failed to figure out how to integrate it with its online auction business, it sold a majority stake to an investment consortium including its founders and Silver Lake in 2009.

Skype made a name for itself offering free voice calls from PC to PC, charging to connect calls between PCs and the public telephone network. Later it added video chat and, more recently, software clients for smartphones.

Microsoft offered a similar PC-to-phone service for consumers under the Windows Live Call brand, and continues to offer PC-to-PC text, voice and video chat with its Windows Live Messenger service.

Skype and Microsoft also target businesses with their communications offerings. Microsoft has a server-based unified communications tool that connects PCs to a PBX to offer VoIP calling, instant messaging and videoconferencing. Previously called Communications Server, it is now branded Lync, while Lync Online is a cloud-based service offering similar functionality. Skype Connect, meanwhile, is a service that allows businesses to connect their PBX to Skype to handle incoming and outgoing calls. A management tool, Skype Manager, allows businesses to control call costs.

Reposted from Macworld.com.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Congress questions Sony on hacked PlayStation network

REPRINTED from the LA Times
A congressional subcommittee has sent a letter to Sony Corp. seeking information about a security attack on PlayStation’s online network by hackers last week.
Addressed to Sony Chairman Kazuo Hirai, the letter requested answers to a detailed list of questions regarding the breach, which exposed the personal information and possibly credit card data of 77 million customer accounts.
The letter, written by the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trading, addresses a number of security concerns, including when the breach occurred, how much data was stolen and why Sony waited a week before it notified  customers.
The letter demanded specifics on the kind of information the hackers stole and assurances that no credit card data was swiped.
“Given the amount and nature of the personal information known to have been taken, the potential harm that could be caused if credit card information was also taken would be quite significant,” the letter said.
The subcommittee set a May 6 deadline for a reply.
Sony’s admission has drawn a firestorm of anger from customers and lawmakers alike. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) on Wednesday compared the breach to thieves playing the video game Grand Theft Auto with highly sensitive personal information.
The PlayStation network has been down for almost two weeks and it’s unclear when the service will be fully revived.
Sony could not immediately be reached for comment.

As Apple's Profits Surpass Microsoft's, All Eyes Are On iPad

REPRINTED from Huffington Post.

For the first time in 20 years, Apple's quarterly profits were higher than Microsoft's.

Alhough Microsoft's earnings last quarter were up overall, revenue from the Redmond company's Windows operating system, a key moneymaker, fell 4.4 percent. The sagging Windows sales were mitigated by Microsoft Office sales, which was Microsoft’s top performing sector for the quarter. Experts attributed the declining Windows sales to the rise of tablet computers, which have cut into the sale of personal computers. While tablets have sold well -- especially Apple's wildly popular iPad, Microsoft has struggled to serve up a viable tablet competitor or tablet operating system.

"People could think about the tablet as a replacement for their traditional PC," said Harry Wang, director of mobile research at Parks Associates. "In some circumstances it could significantly impact PC sales because of cannibalization."

With tablet sales showing no sign of slowing, Microsoft risks losing more and more money if it doesn't adapt to new patterns of consumer computer buying. Eighty percent of the personal computer market runs Windows, but Microsoft's share of the tablet market is zero percent, according to Parks Associates, a technology research and consulting firm.

When it comes to tablets, Apple, which netted $5.99 billion in revenue last quarter to Microsoft's $5.23 billion, is the indisputable king. Sales of the iPad, which competitors and critics initially derided as a novelty item, have led Apple to hold onto 75 percent of tablet market share. iPad sales were lower than expected last quarter, but the company noted that it had sold every single iPad it produced, suggesting that demand for the device is still exceptionally high. Experts forecast Apple will ship 45 million iPads in 2011, tripling the 15 million tablets it sold in its nine months out in 2010.

Why should Microsoft care? More iPad sales mean fewer PC sales.

"Tablets could impact up to 30 percent of PC sales in the US alone." Harry Wang, director of mobile research at Parks Associates, projected.

Even though the tablet market is booming, Microsoft has expressed doubts about investing heavily in the market.

In a recent interview, Craig Mundie, Microsoft's global chief research and strategy officer, said, "I don't know whether the big screen tablet pad category is going to remain with us or not."

The longer Microsoft waits to enter the tablet market, the harder it will be for the company to crack into an aggressively expanding market, analysts warned.

"These things don’t happen over night. They take effort; they take planning," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner. "They’re going to have to react at an even faster pace if they want to capture the hearts and minds of consumers."

Tablets are not all Microsoft has to worry about. Though it revamped its mobile operating system,Windows Phone 7, last February, the software was late to the game, according to analysts. Windows Phone 7 arrived three years behind the iPhone, which debuted in 2007 and well after Google's Android had already gained significant market share. Microsoft has partnered with Nokia in an attempt to reclaim the mobile market, but Nokia itself is quickly losing share to nimbler rivals, many of which use the Android operating system.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Acer Iconia Tab A500 review

Check out: "Acer Iconia Tab A500 review" - www.engadget.com http://www.engadget.com/2011/04/26/acer-iconia-tab-a500-review/?icid=engadget-iphone-url
Last month, the Motorola Xoom was the only officially sanctioned Android 3.0 tablet available in the United States. Now there are four -- the T-Mobile G-Slate arrived last week, the Acer Iconia Tab A500 this week, and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer will soon hit US shores. All have the same basic silicon inside, but oh-so-slightly different approaches to shape, such that price might honestly be the deciding factor these days. That's where we thought this WiFi-only Acer Iconia Tab had an edge, launching at $450, but now that ASUS has shaken the money tree with a $400 figure for the Eee Pad Transformer, we doubt other price tags will stick. It could be the tiniest of differentiators that shifts your opinion in favor of a particular slate. What's a prospective tablet buyer to do? Join us on a tour of the Acer Iconia Tab A500's particular perks and quibbles after the break, and we'll tell you.


We first saw Acer's 10-inch Android tablet five months ago -- when it didn't have so much as a name -- but by golly, it doesn't look like the hardware has aged a single day. In some ways, that's a wonderful thing, as we're big fans of the stylish brushed aluminum case, which plays off of the iPad aesthetic without looking like a blatant clone. On the other hand, we were disappointed to find that a few of the iffy design decisions we noticed in earlier prototypes have carried over to the final frame -- that aluminum sandwich has very visible seams (one snagged an armhair) and the back sometimes creaks when squeezed. At 1.69 pounds and 13.3mm thick, the A500's most definitely portable, but still slightly heftier than the Xoom, and of course it feels positively portly beside an iPad 2. The rounded edges make single-handed reading possible, but the weight means you won't want to hold it over your bed. Enough of that for now, though -- let's describe what you're actually getting.
Like most Android Honeycomb tablets, the Iconia Tab's front is all bezel and screen (and a tiny front-facing cam), intentionally designed without any buttons to let you hold and use the slate in any orientation. However, unlike most of its competitors the Iconia Tab has an orientation lock switch (on its "top" edge) to save you the trouble of digging through a software menu. There's also a volume rocker up top, which performs a neat orientation trick of its own -- it's contextual, meaning the switch changes volume up or down depending on how the tablet is held. Sadly, both of these buttons are made of cheap plastic, sunk into the aluminum frame, and rather difficult to press, which somewhat detracts from the generally classy feeling of the Iconia Tab. There's also a plastic flap right next to the buttons, where you can insert a microSD card (yes, they work out of the box) and a blank space where we expect the ATamp;T model (or perhaps, the Verizon LTE version that disappeared into the ether) would store its SIM slot.

Moving onto the left side, we have the translucent power button, which doubles as the charging light, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a mini-HDMI port. We're slightly miffed that Acer couldn't cram a full-size HDMI socket in the copious space here, or at least include a mini-HDMI cable in the box. Regardless, the video connection works fairly well, performing full, responsive display mirroring at 720p resolution, albeit suffering from a bit of overscan. (Acer says 1080p video-out will be supported in a Q2 update.) On the bottom, there's just a docking connector for the optional charging dock with infrared remote, and on the right side you'll find the dedicated power jack and a pair of USB slots: one micro-USB to transfer data to the tablet, and one full-size USB port which connects with both your storage drives and keyboards right out of the box. (Again, you'll need to wait for an Acer update to enable USB mouse support.) Last but not least, the back has the Iconia Tab's ho-hum five megapixel camera with a single LED flash in the upper-right-hand corner -- more on that in a bit -- and a pair of silvery stereo speakers along the bottom edge.

We'll be frank here -- Speakers have been an afterthought on most every tablet we've seen, and they usually range the gamut from "you'll want headphones" to "what are you doing to my ears?" That's not quite the case here. Acer's tiny speakers -- augmented by some Dolby Mobile wizardry -- sound good enough to share. They're still pretty tinny, mind you, and lack any meaningful amount of bass, but the sound field they produce was rich and full enough to accompany movies and games, and sounded good whether the tablet was held in our outstretched hands or lying flat against a hard surface.


And thanks to the fairly stellar viewing angles of Acer's 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 TFT LCD display, sharing such multimedia might actually make sense. It's no IPS screen, to be sure, and we won't make any excuses for the incredible amount of glare and raw fingerprint grease attracted to its mirror-like finish, but for a plain-jane LCD panel, it's surprisingly good. Text is crisp, colors pop, whites get blindingly bright and blacks fairly dim, and those features only wash out marginally when viewed at oblique angles. Acer's capacitive digitizer is also blissfully responsive -- Honeycomb struggles to keep up -- and tracks ten full points of contact simultaneously (we checked) for whatever multi-finger gestures app developers might eventually roll out. Weaknesses include pixels visible with the naked eye and the near-uncertainty of being able to see anything on the screen outdoors, but we've seen plenty of sub-$1,000 laptops that wish they had the screen Acer brings to the table here.

Performance and battery life

We've said much about the potent performance of the dual-core 1GHz Tegra 2 system-on-chip, and as much as we ragged on NVIDIA's seeming inability to deliver the the processor last year, it's at the heart of some of our favorite devices today -- including the T-Mobile G2x and the Motorola Atrix, not to mention every Honeycomb slate. However, Acer oh-so-slightly bucks the trend here by providing the A500's Tegra 2 with 1GB of DDR3 RAM -- likely faster than the DDR2 chips used in its close competitors.

Sure enough, the slate seemed slightly speedier in our benchmark suite, as where the Xoom pulled down 1,801 in the general-purpose Quadrant test (and the T-Mobile G-Slate did 1,879) the Iconia Tab pulled ahead of the pack with a score of 2,228 and pushed 2,300 several times. The A500 also regularly delivered over 42 MFLOPS in Linpack -- recall that it took a overclocked 1.5GHz Xoom to blaze through 47 MFLOPS. The A500 even pulled slightly ahead in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark, completing a run in just 1,988ms, where the Xoom took 2,042ms. Still, those aren't terribly significant differences, and in real-world testing we didn't see a noticible impact -- in fact, if anything, the graphical performance had a couple niggles on our Acer review unit. The A500 plays 720p (H.264) video like a charm (though not 1080p) and does well in Android 3.0's handful of graphically intensive games, but on rare occasions we noticed some graphical corruption when playing certain videos in RockPlayer or scrolling Android menus, the likes of which never cropped up in our Xoom testing.

No, our only genuine disappointment with the Acer Iconia Tab A500 was its sustained battery life.

Battery Life
Acer Iconia Tab A500 6:55
Apple iPad 2 10:26
Apple iPad 9:33
Motorola Xoom 8:20
T-Mobile G-Slate 8:18
Archos 101 7:20
RIM BlackBerry PlayBook 7:01
Samsung Galaxy Tab 6:09
Dell Streak 7 3:26

Acer includes a pair of 3260mAh batteries under that shiny rear cover, and for the most part they worked just fine. The battery meter still read 80 percent after a day of idling, and had only dipped to 53 percent by the time we woke up the next morning -- with two push email accounts constantly running over WiFi the whole while. After charging up once again, and with moderate use of email, web, a smidgen of video and gaming, and plenty of music playback during a second day, we hit the pillow with 32 percent of battery life remaining. However, when it came time for our standard battery drain test (where we loop the same standard-definition video with the screen at roughly 65 percent brightness, and WiFi on) the A500's lithium-ion cells gave us only 6 hours and 55 minutes of playback, a good sight worse than any 10-inch Honeycomb tablet we've tested thus far. Mind you, that's still enough oomph to last you a transcontinental flight, but it's a little weak compared to the alternatives here, and that's surprising considering both the underlying silicon and batteries here are supposedly identical to the immediate Android competition.


We're not sure what we can say about Honeycomb that you haven't heard before, but we'll try anyhow: Android 3.0 is a beautiful, functional operating system that lacks serious software support and has quite a few quirks to boot. Assuming enough of us buy Android tablets, the minds of developers around the globe are quite liable to change, but for now, you can expect a lovely browser, Gmail client, music player, calendar, photo browser, chat and maps application, along with whatever additional Android phone software you can get to properly run on the thing. Acer actually includes its own compliment of applications to get you started, but they hurt more than they help -- laughably, almost every one duplicates the functionality of an existing Honeycomb app, most of them perform worse, but Acer sticks them right under your nose anyhow by affixing them to a set of glorified app drawers.
Here's the basic rundown:

LumiRead is a simple e-book reader that redirects you to the web browser to actually grab any books, an odd addition when Google's own Books is a tap away; SocialJogger is a Twitter and Facebook status update browser with oversized fonts and a painfully slow UI that could be replaced with the likes of TweetDeck in an instant. There's also NemoPlayer, an ugly (but speedy) photo, video and music navigator that pales in comparison to Honeycomb's fast and stylish Gallery and Music apps; Clear.Fi, another multimedia browsers that's slightly slower but prettier; and MusicA, a Shazam-alike that somehow had difficulty recognizing a number of pop hits. The two positive additions here are Acer's Media Server, which lets the A500 stream content to networked computers and DLNA-capable rigs, and Photo Browser 3D, which uses the tablet's inertial sensors to flip through graphically pleasing digital scrapbooks of your camera images.


It's just a shame Acer didn't put a little extra effort in to make the slate's cameras worthwhile. There are two photo-taking implements on the Iconia Tab A500 -- one 2 megapixel webcam up front, and a 5 megapixel imager in back -- and we're sorry to say that neither is really worth your effort. Color reproduction actually isn't half bad on the rear camera, and it can actually take fairly pretty macro shots in bright light, but we couldn't get the lens to focus on subjects further than a few feet away -- which resulted in loads of blurry images, needless to say. We're still not sold on the idea of taking photos using a ten-inch slab of glass, regardless, but we suppose augmented reality developers (and video chat engineers) with thank Acer for their inclusion.
Speaking of video, we're sorry to say it's far worse than the stills.

As you can see in our sample video above, the Acer Iconia Tab A500 is technically capable of 720p recording, but we'd be hard-pressed to call it high-definition here -- only in a small window on a webpage and with the tablet held perfectly still does it even look even passable. Compression artifacting crops up when making any rapid motion, and the short focus rears its head again, blurring everything more than a few feet away from the slate's sensor. Audio is also problematic. Even the wind generated by simply walking outdoors muffled most everything else.


All in all, the Acer Iconia Tab A500 is a solid piece of hardware, if you have to have an Android tablet right now, but we don't know if we could recommend it in good conscience over some of the competitors on offer. Honestly, we're still slightly iffy about Honeycomb itself, and the longevity of the Tegra 2 processor, given the lack of software support and speed at which OEMs are adopting faster and more efficient silicon. At present, ASUS' Eee Pad Transformer seems the obvious choice if you can't afford a G-Slate -- assuming prices stay the same -- but at the same time, we don't think you'll be wholly displeased with Acer's tablet if brushed aluminum's your thing. Just keep that AC adapter handy.


This article came from the Engadget iPhone App, which features everything from the latest smartphone news, to reviews and hands-on looks at laptops, HDTVs, gaming, and more. To learn more about the app or download it go here: http://www.engadget.com/downloads/iphone

Monday, April 25, 2011

Today marks 50th anniversary of first silicon integrated circuit patent (and the entire computing industry)

Check out: "Today marks 50th anniversary of first silicon integrated circuit patent (and the entire computing industry)" - www.engadget.com http://www.engadget.com/2011/04/25/today-marks-50th-anniversary-of-first-silicon-integrated-circuit/?icid=engadget-iphone-url
There's little question that the last 50 years have represented the most innovative half-century in human history, and today marks the anniversary of the invention that started it all: the silicon-based integrated circuit. Robert Noyce received the landmark US patent on April 25, 1961, going on to found Intel Corporation with Gordon E. Moore (of Moore's Law fame) in 1968. He wasn't the first to invent the integrated circuit -- the inventor of the pocket calculator Jack Kilby patented a similar technology on a germanium wafer for Texas Instruments a few months prior. Noyce's silicon version stuck, however, and is responsible for Moore's estimated $3.7 billion net worth, not to mention the success of the entire computing industry. Holding 16 other patents and credited as a mentor of Steve Jobs, Noyce was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1987, and continued to shape the computing industry until his death in 1990. If Moore's Law continues to hold true, as we anticipate it will, we expect the next 50 years to be even more exciting than the last. Let's meet back here in 2061.

Source: Calgary Herald


This article came from the Engadget iPhone App, which features everything from the latest smartphone news, to reviews and hands-on looks at laptops, HDTVs, gaming, and more. To learn more about the app or download it go here: http://www.engadget.com/downloads/iphone

Purdue's Celeritas car scores 2,200MPG from the sun, wins Shell Eco-marathon

Check out: "Purdue's Celeritas car scores 2,200MPG from the sun, wins Shell Eco-marathon" - www.engadget.com http://www.engadget.com/2011/04/25/purdues-celeritas-car-scores-2-200mpg-from-the-sun-wins-shell/?icid=engadget-iphone-url
With gas prices topping $4.50 per gallon in some parts of the country, a car that costs a fraction of a penny per mile to drive (and looks like it belongs on the road) is sure to get our attention. The 275-pound, 2,200MPG Celeritas appears to be the closest we've come to having a solar-powered car that could one day take to the streets, however, which explains why the vehicle scored first prize in the Urban Concept category in this year's Shell Eco-marathon. While it can only transport a single person (the driver), the car includes headlights, taillights, a trunk and even backup cameras. Notably absent from this version are air conditioning and a license plate -- the latter of which would (naturally) be required before the car becomes street legal. The Purdue University design team chose "Celeritas" (Latin for "swiftness") as the name for this soon-to-be-street-legal roadster, though in a category that's notorious for slower vehicles, we wouldn't expect the prototype to fly past us in the fast lane. Perhaps we can get Celeritas and IVy together for some alone time before we're dropping Hamiltons for a gallon of regular?

Source: Purdue University


This article came from the Engadget iPhone App, which features everything from the latest smartphone news, to reviews and hands-on looks at laptops, HDTVs, gaming, and more. To learn more about the app or download it go here: http://www.engadget.com/downloads/iphone

Asia out of IPv4 addresses

NOTE: The following is reprinted from NetworkWorld.com

The Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) has run out of all but a handful of IPv4 addresses that it is holding in reserve for start-up network operators.

APNIC is the first of the Internet's five regional Internet registries to deplete its free pool of IPv4 address space.

APNIC's news is another sign that CIOs and other IT executives need to begin migrating to IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol known as IPv4.

"For anybody who hasn't figured out that it's time to do IPv6, this is another wake-up call for them," says Owen DeLong, an IPv6 evangelist at Hurricane Electric and a member of the advisory council of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the North American counterpart to APNIC.

Any CIO who isn't planning for IPv6 is "driving toward a brick wall and closing your eyes and hoping that it's going to disappear before you get there," DeLong says. Ignoring IPv6 "is not the best strategy."

Most IPv4 address space is expected to be handed out by the regional Internet registries by the end of 2011.

IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and supports a virtually unlimited number of devices -- 2 to the 128th power.

The Asia Pacific region has been gobbling up the most IPv4 address space in recent years. Geoff Huston, Chief Scientist at APNIC, said APNIC allocated more than 58 million IPv4 addresses in the last two months alone: 41.2 million in March and 16.8 million in April. Among the largest allocations since February 1 were 8.3 million to NTT Communications of Japan, 4.1 million addresses to China Mobile, 4.1 million addresses to KDDI of Japan. and 3.1 million to North Star Information of China. Three other carriers -- India's Bharti Airtel Ltd.,  Pakistan Telecommunications and Chinanet Hunan Province Network -- all received 2 million IPv4 addresses.

APNIC has depleted its IPv4 address space "dramatically faster than people expected," DeLong says. "My guess is that a lot of operators in the Asia Pacific region realized the time of IPv4 depletion was drawing near and they rushed to get their applications in."

APNIC is holding 16.7 million IPv4 addresses -- dubbed a /8 in network engineering terms -- in reserve to distribute in tiny allotments of around 1,000 addresses each to new and emerging IPv6-based networks so they can continue to communicate with the largely IPv4-based Internet infrastructure.

ARIN, which doles out IPv4 and IPv6 address space to companies operating in North America, predicts that it will run out of IPv4 addresses this fall.

"RIPE [the European Internet registry] is going to be the next one to run out. I wouldn't count on them making it until July," DeLong says. "I think ARIN will make it to the end of this year; maybe we'll run out in October or November."

One wild card is whether Asian network operators who also do business in North America will begin requesting IPv4 address space from ARIN now that APNIC has none to give.

"This will probably accelerate consumption in the ARIN region slightly and in RIPE for the same reason because there are a very large number of companies that have operations in Asia, Europe and the Americas," DeLong says.

Need IPv4 addresses? Get 'em here

NOTE: This article is reprinted from NetworkWorld.com

A vibrant market for buying and selling IPv4 addresses is emerging, and policymakers are clarifying the rules associated with how network operators can monetize this precious Internet addressing resource.

At least four websites -- www.depository.net, www.denuo.com, www.addrex.net and www.tradeipv4.com -- are serving as brokers for organizations that want to sell or lease IPv4 address space.

Martin von Loewis, a German entrepreneur, launched the www.tradeipv4.com website on April 15, immediately following the Asian regional registry's announcement that it was out of its regular pool of IPv4 addresses. The website is a trading platform for sellers of IPv4 address space to solicit bids from buyers, with von Loewis functioning as the broker for sales. He hasn't brokered any sales yet.

"I do see a market for IPv4 addresses emerging ... but people are somewhat hesitant to use the service because many believe it's illegal or black market or gray market,'' von Loewis says. "That actually affects the sellers more than the buyers."

The IPv4 address space resale market is evolving in light of Nortel's recent sale of 666,624 IPv4 addresses to Microsoft for $7.5 million, or $11.25 per address.

"Microsoft's acquisition of Nortel's IPv4 address space: That's a fascinating milestone,'' says Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks, which studies Internet traffic trends. "Now there's a price on [IPv4 addresses]. It's really the beginning of an economic incentive to support IPv6 over IPv4."

The IPv4 resale market is evolving because the Internet is running out of IPv4 address space.

IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and supports a virtually unlimited number of devices -- 2 to the 128th power.

The free pool of unassigned IPv4 addresses was depleted in February, and the Asia Pacific regional Internet registry announced last week that it has doled out all but its last 16.7 million IPv4 addresses which are being held in reserve for startup network operators.

Von Loewis anticipates that most of his initial customers will come from Asia. "I expect people will only use this service in regions where IPv4 is already exhausted," von Loewis says. "If they can get addresses free from RIPE [the European registry, which still has IPv4 addresses], why buy them?"

Von Loewis says he has been contacted by a number of potential buyers. He has established a minimum block of 256 IPv4 addresses -- known as a /24 -- for his trading site. He expects most of the sales on his site will be for blocks of address space ranging from 256 addresses to 4,000 addresses, which is known as a /20.

"People do want to buy the larger blocks of addresses and they are not sure yet on how to do it," von Loewis says. "The policies are evolving all the time ... It's somewhat complicated."

The rules of how IPv4 addresses can be sold are still being clarified.

Microsoft agreed last week to transfer these IPv4 addresses using policies established by the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), one of five Regional Internet Registries that dole out IPv4 and next-generation IPv6 address space to ISPs, enterprises and other network operators.

ARIN says it has authority to approve all sales and other transfers for IPv4 address space -- even legacy address space given out prior to ARIN's founding in 1997-- in the United States, Canada and parts of the Caribbean.

ARIN's policy for overseeing IPv4 address sales is this in a nutshell: In order for an organization to sell IPv4 addresses, it has to prove to ARIN that the addresses are registered to that organization. The buyer has to prove that it is a valid recipient of the IPv4 address space, including demonstrating that it has the need to use up the addresses over the next 12 months.

"Whether we're talking about a transfer or a sale, at the end of the day these get transferred as updates to the entries in ARIN's registry database," says ARIN President and CEO John Curran. "Transfers occur after we receive a request and approve it."

ARIN is encouraging the nascent market for IPv4 address trading.

"Our job is to make sure there is good utilization of address space," Curran says. "If there's a market for IPv4 addresses, people who have some unused addresses and might have to work to get it freed up will have an incentive to do so. That means the address space will be better utilized."

Curran says ARIN has seen a modest increase in IPv4 address transfer activity in the last few months, as IPv4 depletion has become a more urgent issue.

Curran says he anticipates "there will be dozens of organizations that will try to match people with addresses with those who need addresses. ... The more organizations that help people find address space, the better. It doesn't do us any good to all be running out of address space and have some idle."

ARIN adopted this IPv4 address transfer policy 18 months ago because it was worried about the development of a black market for IPv4 addresses. But ARIN's transfer process is so new that "it's really a murky area," Arbor Networks' Labovitz says.

In the meantime, ARIN is still handing out IPv4 addresses from its stash of 85.8 million remaining addresses. ARIN estimates it has a six- to nine-month supply of IPv4 addresses, which are being given out to ISPs to meet the need they can demonstrate three months into the future.

"We're still giving out address space in the region," Curran says. "As we continue to issue address space, there may not be a lot of reason for someone to do a transfer."

One issue is whether a vibrant IPv4 address resale market will further delay IPv6 deployment.

A new study of Internet traffic trends by Arbor Networks indicates that around 0.03% of Internet traffic is IPv6, down 12% during the last six months. In contrast, IPv4 traffic grew by an average of 40% to 60% over the same time frame. The study involved measuring IPv6 traffic across six ISPs in North America and Europe over the last six months.

"The amount of IPv6 traffic -- both tunneled and native -- is very, very small. It's well under three-tenths of 1%,'' Labovitz says. "We're at a place in the Internet's 20-year evolution where we're starting to see the end of IPv4, and it's clear that we've got a very long way to go with IPv6 migration."

Proponents of IPv6 are hoping that the upcoming World IPv6 Day, a 24-hour trial of IPv6 that is scheduled for June 8, will speed up IPv6 adoption and in turn prime the market for IPv4 address resale.

Arbor Networks says it isn't sure how much more IPv6 traffic will surge across the Internet on June 8. "We expect it to jump significantly," Labovitz says. "It's really a question of how many folks are running modern stacks and how many folks have access to IPv6 over the infrastructure. I don't think it will be half of Internet traffic on June 8, but whether it goes up by 2% or 5%, I don't know."

Arbor is putting in place a measurement capability so that it can provide near real-time reports on IPv6 traffic on World IPv6 Day.

"We want to have hour-by-hour snapshots of the success or failure of the event," Labovitz says. "We'll put up a Web page beforehand with counters that show the percentage of traffic, the number of carriers with native IPv6 traffic and a lot of other vital statistics."

But Labovitz admits that IPv6 still faces many hurdles to deployment.

"Vendors haven't wanted to do it until the carriers demanded it. Carriers haven't wanted to do it until the enterprises demanded it. Consumers don't want to do it until there is content, and the content providers are waiting on the carriers," Labovitz says. "That's why World IPv6 Day is so important, because it isn't just about the carriers; it's about the whole Internet ecosystem."