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Microsoft Axing Messenger On March 15th 218

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the aol-remembers-aim-still-running dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that Microsoft is killing Messenger in favor of Skype. From the article: "Microsoft on Tuesday mass emailed its 100 million+ Messenger users to let them know that the service is officially being retired on March 15, 2013. On that date, all users will be migrated to Skype, which Microsoft acquired back in May 2011 for $8.5 billion. This means Messenger will be shut down in just 66 days. It will only keep working afterwards in mainland China, mainly because Skype is operated there by a local provider called TOM." Relatedly, an anonymous reader asks: "I am looking to build a Skype replacement for me and some friends and was wondering which languages you would use server side to handle all of the encrypted data streaming? I am thinking to use SIP on a centralized server (as NAT can be a pain to get through). The clients will use end-to-end encryption. Thoughts?" There are some alternatives already, for variable definitions of working.
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Microsoft Axing Messenger On March 15th

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  • careful (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:35AM (#42531663)

    IF you have an existing skype account you get 1 shot at merging your 'hotmail/messneger/live' account. If you do not do it right you end up with 2 accounts. You can untangle it but it is a pain and includes emailing skype admins. Even now I am not sure I can undo it...

  • fickle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AntEater (16627) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:48AM (#42531781) Homepage

    This is why I tend to go ballistic when someone argues that we should stick with the larger vendor because they provide product stability. I've been told we can't count on the smaller guys to stay in the market and be able to provide support over the long term. Then I look at it and see the the "big guys" kill products right and left depending on their whim and the perceived profitability of a given market. Messenger is a stupid little product but I'm sure there are more than a few people out of that 100M+ base who have some dependence on it and don't want or need to use Skype.

    • Re:fickle (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Frankie70 (803801) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:09AM (#42532051)

      This is why I tend to go ballistic when someone argues that we should stick with the larger vendor because they provide product stability.

      Do people argue this with you for paid products or free products like Messenger?

    • Re:fickle (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ledow (319597) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:19AM (#42532185) Homepage

      I started with a Hotmail account pre-2000, probably pre-1995 (don't know exactly, but long before I was in uni). Since then it has been an MSN account (where I started using Messenger), a Live account, a Microsoft account, and now it's taking over my Skype. Hell, even Windows 8 wanted me to log in using it and I refused - I haven't actually USED that account in YEARS.

      The problem I'm more worried about (rather than the bi-annual "upgrade your account to new account X" problem) is what about third-party clients? I have Pidgin plugged in with my messenger details, and presume that will stop. Honestly, that just means I'll stop using messenger and won't even notice - I still have plenty of alternatives and slowly ditched things in the past as they stopped letting me use them from third-party clients (I still have ICQ, AOL, MSN, YIM, Jabber, and even Facebook messengers plugged into my Pidgin).

      Fact is, I don't really care about running "your" software, just your backend service - and it's just not vital enough that I'd care. MS, in particular, has had a bad history with me and their client software - it's been pretty atrocious at points over the years and taking several backward steps (I can't remember the last time I successfully did a messenger file transfer, the various takeovers meant it got more and more plastered with adverts, etc. and video-over-MSN was always a joke in comparison).

      Steam also wants me to message my friends that way - er, no - because it's just a sub-standard chat client that I have a bucket of and numerous alternatives with more features that don't need me and my friends to be running Steam all the time to use them. Like Skype, I won't have it running "just in case" someone wants to talk to me, and hence they won't use it as much either (if Skype offered a proper API that other programs could use, Pidgin etc. would jump on it).

      Skype is probably MS's biggest online asset at the moment. It's really quite a powerful tool and I was half expecting it to go the other way (e.g. Skype functionality appearing only in Messenger and Windows, etc.). I now honestly give it a handful of months before I abandon it except to keep the account live. And that really means that Skype will surge as everyone does this "upgrade" and then die when people learn how atrocious the client is again.

      Granted, I'm a freeloader - I've never paid Skype a penny or any of the MSN/Live/Microsoft etc. services. But the fact is that I haven't run an "official" client in nearly a decade now, and the bit that messenger does can be done on any number of third-party clients. Messing with that just means I move on to something else - hell, I even have my own domain's Jabber setup ready to roll if it comes to it. It's even loaded into my Pidgin and anyone can use it for free.

      I don't see what they seek to achieve, to be honest. I won't suddenly start using MS services that I haven't used in a decade (the IM client kept the account open nicely, though). I won't suddenly start using MS features through Skype. And I won't tolerate Skype being broken by MS upgrades without just moving on or sacrificing its functionality entirely. And they won't "save" anything by merging accounts because they still can't shut down in China, they still have to track all those accounts, they still have to pay for separate authentication mechanisms in the various software for years to come, etc.

      Kill messenger. Not much will happen, but - as pointed out - people will be a bit more wary about what they sign up for in the future. Like the Google accounts lately that have had features taken from them, etc. - we'll just move on as soon as something affects us personally.

      It would be sad to see my ancient Hotmail/MSN account go, if for no other reason that I'm impressed it's still running (I never check it and only get spam and the last "proper" email in it was from 2005, I think, before I moved them all out when they started to cut out Outlook Express integration with it - which was the only free way

      • by Lokitoth (1069508)
        You realize that Skype has transitioned to using Messenger for the backend, right? Once you link the accounts Skype is also the client for your messenger account. The only thing they are killing off is the Messenger client, which makes complete sense - there is no reason to continue supporting both. The difference for China is organizational, and would require a restructuring, plus there are probably also various legal hurdles to cross.
      • if Skype offered a proper API that other programs could use, Pidgin etc. would jump on it

        Here ya go: http://developer.skype.com/desktop-api-reference [skype.com]

        Plenty of 3rd parties don't have any issues using the API. You can find phones, voicemail software, video camera plugins that all work with skype. Of course, with skype you have access to chat with anyone that has a skype, messenger, or facebook chat account.

        It won't be long before an advert-filled, forced-upgrade version of Skype that consumes more resources than my web browser (and has an integrate IE component or whatever) is the only way to use it.

        Because that's exactly what happened to Messenger. Oh, wait, no it didn't.

      • by chihowa (366380)

        I even have my own domain's Jabber setup ready to roll if it comes to it.

        If you have your own domain and a Jabber server on it, you can easily allow server-to-server communication. Mine is federated with Google's (and others), so I can use my local account to keep in touch with people using Google's chat services without having to keep a Google account active.

    • THIS. You know, if startups actually cared about their customers, they wouldn't sell out so readily (at least, to That Company) or, when doing so, would extract some agreement to not kill the service outright for X years after. I won't mourn MS killing the messenger, but the larger trend is just depressing.

      (Filming this with my Flip camera.)

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        THIS. You know, if startups actually cared about their customers, they wouldn't sell out so readily (at least, to That Company) or, when doing so, would extract some agreement to not kill the service outright for X years after. I won't mourn MS killing the messenger, but the larger trend is just depressing.

        (Filming this with my Flip camera.)

        People that start startups want to get paid for all of the time they've put into it - and sometimes they get paid quite handsomely. As much as I dislike Microsoft, if they wanted to acquire the startup that I work for, I wouldn't turn down their millions of dollars.

        If you want to start a more altruistic startup and tell your employees that there's not going to be a big payout because you'll only accept offers from ethical companies (are there any?) who agree to restrictions on how they can use the company t

    • This is why I tend to go ballistic when someone argues that we should stick with the larger vendor because they provide product stability. I've been told we can't count on the smaller guys to stay in the market and be able to provide support over the long term.

      I honestly don't know if the big fish or the smaller guys have a better track record in keeping their services around. What I do know is that if you really care about that, there is no viable alternative to open standards implemented by multiple vendors. For chat, for example, IRC is still around. It has been since 1988.

      What's interesting here is that MSN Messenger actually had one of the more open of the proprietary protocols. I believe Microsoft actually documented it. Of course, they still tried to lock

    • Forget vendors, and go with Protocols. XMPP is supported by how many products and vedors? And if you get tired of google chat, or facebook chat, you can roll your own with a dozen free servers (or find a hosted service.)

      Kind of like choosing to use SIP as the basis of your phone system, then deciding on vendors. Keeps you away from many of the whims of the provider of the proprietary one.

    • This is why I tend to go ballistic when someone argues that we should stick with the larger vendor because they provide product stability. I've been told we can't count on the smaller guys to stay in the market and be able to provide support over the long term.

      Folding the functionality of a product in to another (after 13 years of service) is hardly short-term or being done on a whim. That's pretty good stability by just about any standard.

  • Jabber/XMPP (Score:5, Informative)

    by Albanach (527650) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:49AM (#42531789) Homepage

    I am looking to build a Skype replacement for me and some friends and was wondering which languages you would use server side to handle all of the encrypted data streaming? I am thinking to use SIP on a centralized server (as NAT can be a pain to get through). The clients will use end-to-end encryption. Thoughts?

    Was this not what Jabber/XMPP was supposed to achieve over a decade ago?

    I'd start by looking there. A centralized server is also a single point of failure. Something that tends to be frowned upon by users looking to chat by voice/video/text.

    • Very much so. Plus you can talk to anyone who has a Jabber/XMPP account, including everybody on Google Talk.

      • Almost everyone on Google Talk. If you use Google Talk and don't set up SRV records pointing to Google's server for XMPP, other Google Talk users can talk to you, but other XMPP users can't.
        • Ah, good point.

        • by chihowa (366380)

          Almost everyone on Google Talk. If you use Google Talk and don't set up SRV records pointing to Google's server for XMPP, other Google Talk users can talk to you, but other XMPP users can't.

          I don't understand. Can you elaborate on this?

          Why would you set up SRV records pointing at Google's server instead of running your own server and using s2s to talk to Google's server? The latter configuration seems to be how XMPP was designed to work and will allow federation with any other server.

          • I believe that is for using the google apps for your domain features.

            We have an XMPP server and point the client and server DNS records for our domain to our server, and anyone can quickly add us and start chatting.. (well, okay, we block the client port at the firewall, but the server to server works well)

            $ dig SRV _xmpp-client._tcp.example.net
            $ dig SRV _xmpp-server._tcp.example.net

            Ensure those point to your XMPP server for example.net

          • For the same reason that you'd set up an MX record pointing to Google's mail server, instead of running your own: that you're either lazy, stupid, or very trusting. The difference is, if you don't set up the MX record pointing to Google, but tell them that you want to run Google Apps for your domain, then no one can send email to you. If you don't set up the SRV records, you can still log in to GTalk with your domain name and use it, and other GTalk users can still message you, but no one on a non-Google
            • "if you don't set up the MX record pointing to Google, but tell them that you want to run Google Apps for your domain, then no one can send email to you."

              Wrong, sir, you are wrong.

              I know because I've done it. It's neither difficult nor undocumented.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I'd start by looking there. A centralized server is also a single point of failure. Something that tends to be frowned upon by users looking to chat by voice/video/text.

      Facebook.com also looks like a centralized server from the user's perspective, and yet that's my impression where most my Messenger contacts left for. If you just have a sufficient number of load balancers and whatever else redundancy the user doesn't see I doubt they see the problem. I mean we started out distributed with IRC and the trend went the other way.

      • by Albanach (527650)

        Sorry, I wasn't clear in the point I was making and you misinterpret me as a result.

        Many things will have single points of failure (though that could be a server farm, or a cloud provider like Amazon). My point was that if you want to provide a service that is expected to be reliable and available 24x7 by users, you need to be prepared for that and mitigate to the fullest extent possible.

        It sounded like the OP wants to set up a single instance serving perhaps SIP or XMPP. I'd just want them to be aware that

    • I'm a fan of Openfire [igniterealtime.org]. Nice admin interface, easy to install, easy to hack (it's just Java, and it's a relatively sane specimen from that ecosystem).

      It's my impression that ejabberd [ejabberd.im] is considered the best XMPP server, but it's written in Erlang so your C-family skills won't get you far in hacking it, it's less friendly to administrate (unless your config is extremely boring), and, as with so many Erlang projects, the documentation is mediocre and assumes you know Erlang—especially Mnesia, which Erlan

    • The problem with XMPP is that, while a lot of companies took it up for their IM networks (most notably, Facebook), many of them are not keen on enabling cross-server connectivity. The only major player I know of that does that is Google. It's still better than other options, since you can use the client of your choice, but you still get "network lock-in".

      Oh, and the other thing... even Google could do better. Sure, they use XMPP, but they also have some unique features of their own - like server-side chat l

  • Skype Alternatives (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sedated2000 (1716470) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:58AM (#42531885)
    Google Talk and Google Hangout are good obvious alternatives. If you insist on running your own solution, I've had very good experiences with using Elastix. It has everything built in to one package that takes advantage of Asterisk VOIP. I've set it up for multiple companies as their corporate phone system, including some that used it in fairly large call centers. It's also free and has a decent community behind it. They're pretty helpful, and when I was starting out with it I got a lot of good advice on their IRC channel. VOIP, IM, Videoconferencing, and it has good hardware support for all of the telephony devices.
    • Second this. I've been really impressed with Google Talk/Hangout, especially how it integrates with the other web services..
    • by gmack (197796) <gmack@NOsPAM.innerfire.net> on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:22AM (#42532229) Homepage Journal

      The nice thing about Google Talk is that it is XMPP based so it will interface with anyone running a Jabber server so in my case the address is username@myserver so it is more like email works which is how IM should have been designed from the start. The fewer single vendor solutions we have on the internet, the better off we all are.

      • The nice thing about Google Talk is that it is XMPP based so it will interface with anyone running a Jabber server

        It's true in case of GTalk, but don't make the mistake of thinking that any XMPP-based service will do the same. Whether they allow their server to talk to other servers is up to them, and e.g. Facebook, while using XMPP for their chat, don't enable communication to other servers.

  • the end of an era (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hjf (703092) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:00AM (#42531921) Homepage

    While this is mostly irrelevant for north american users, MSN messenger, later Windows Live Messenger, was a big part of spanish-speaking internet users lives. Oh, the memories of using it to pick up girls ;) back then when you could add anyone and they wouldn't freak out because "they don't know you", like people do in facebook. Late night chats with groups of people, those annnoying emoticons, pink fonts, useless "winks"... it's all in the past now. Oh yes, and girls showing their boobs on cam as well. Friendships, fights, contact blocks...

    To be fair, Facebook chat killed Messenger. It's convenient, simple to use and it works well in small screens like netbook machines.

    Microsoft screwed up in their last incarnation of messenger. Demanding real names instead of a nickname, moving the legendary hotmail to "outlook", and making that huge resource hog that messenger 2011 was, with integration to "social" bullshit. So heavy that people couldn't even use their machines if messenger was running.

    To date there's no match for messenger's "share photos", which let you drag and drop pictures to the chat window and have them automatically resized and compressed to something more decent, and shown "big" in the chat window. With the option, of course, to download full size and keep (I think yahoo messenger has that but it's irrelevant in spanish-speaking land). This isn't an option on facebook and not even drag-and-drop to send a photo works there (MSN was great: Print-Screen, Ctrl-V to instantly send a screen capture).

    I did support for small ISPs over the past decade and it was THE biggest problem if messenger didn't work. People didn't mind that their web browsing didn't work as long as messenger worked.

    Skype is in no way a replacement for MSN. Skype was designed to make calls, and that's what it insists in doing. Skype chat is horrible. It doesn't seem to actually "close" if you close it (you have to log out, and then it won't automatically log back in in next boot). And no photo share for skype.

    I, for one, will be missing "MSN" as people called it here. Most people won't since they have moved to FB chat long ago.

    • by gtirloni (1531285)
      Microsoft screwed up

      Finally. I couldn't hold my breath any longer.
    • by jader3rd (2222716)

      Demanding real names instead of a nickname,

      Best feature ever. I hated how I would have trouble finding certain contacts because I didn't know what cute nickname they picked for themselves that day.

      • Hey, it could be even worse. Some people would do shit like this: ~\/\/\~~###*[*[*[*MARY*]*]*]*###~~/\/\/~

        And they'd use colors, bolds, italics, weird fonts. Of course, I set my chat program to filter all that bullshit and give me pure text. And people would get annoyed that I didn't get their cute malware-laden custom emoticons.

        • by hjf (703092)

          That either sucked or was good. I didn't mind colorful nickmanes (you had to install "Plus" to see them properly), but it really annoyed me that some people added leading spaces to their nicknames. Never got why they did that.

          I hated people who added the retard bat emoticon to their nicks so it kept flapping its wings. That one was annoying as hell.

          But then again, there should be some sort of middle ground. Facebook is dead boring, it insists so much in people having all the same looks. No color, no customi

          • Emoticons should just stay as simple text! I'm constantly annoyed by programs that turn my :> into a smiley face. It's not a smiley - it's a beak. :> General/happy. :>- Silly. /:> confused.

            • by hjf (703092)

              hehe well there were some funny emoticons actually. i had one, shortcut 1313 and it was a face with eyebrows going up and down
              1414 was a more dirty look
              1515 was a dirty wink and a kiss. those were hilarious. and kids actually used those numbers in real life. like saying "whoaaaa thirteen thirteen!!!"

              http://s600.beta.photobucket.com/user/moon20_album/media/emoticons/1313.gif.html [photobucket.com] (weirdly accelerated, it should be slower)

              "123:" was a funny "hmmm..." look. people still type 123: and 1313 in facebook chat.

      • by hjf (703092)

        msn actually let you set a custom nickname in a contact-per-contact basis. or you could set it up to display only mail addresses.

        i had a friend, a guy in his 20s, who kept changing his nickname to "i miss you so much" or other faggotries. I just set a custom name for him.

      • Maybe they wanted it that way, because they don't want nosy people they know to easily find and harass them? Same with a new phone number; no one you know will know it until you tell them, and for most people in most situations, that is a bonus when it comes to privacy. And there tends to be something "special" and "personal" about custom nicknames, otherwise they wouldn't have made them up, and instead would have just used their own real name. I don't see why you're complaining, because judging by four

    • by V!NCENT (1105021)

      I thought everybody converted to Whatsapp, ages ago.

      But this does truly starts to axe into Microsoft's dominance. I remember the times where using MSN for chatting on Linux, was such a pain in the ass, everytime they changed the fscking protocol.

      Even the MSOffice XML doctypes are losing ground.

      I hope this doesn't mean that after the IBM and later Microsoft dominance, Apple will be the next big headache in computing, but that might turn out to be HTMLv5 (hopefully!).

    • Your post was insightful, informative, a fascinating slice of history and an excellent all-around summary. I don't mean to take away from any of it.
      But when you wrote:

      To date there's no match for messenger's "share photos", which let you drag and drop pictures to the chat window and have them automatically resized and compressed to something more decent, and shown "big" in the chat window. With the option, of course, to download full size and keep

      That's not quite true. I regularly use iMessage (the clien

    • While this is mostly irrelevant for north american users, MSN messenger, later Windows Live Messenger, was a big part of spanish-speaking internet users lives. Oh, the memories of using it to pick up girls ;) back then when you could add anyone and they wouldn't freak out because "they don't know you", like people do in facebook. Late night chats with groups of people, those annnoying emoticons, pink fonts, useless "winks"... it's all in the past now. Oh yes, and girls showing their boobs on cam as well. Friendships, fights, contact blocks...

      To be fair, Facebook chat killed Messenger. It's convenient, simple to use and it works well in small screens like netbook machines.

      I don't know what particular country you're from, but here in Argentina, Google Talk killed MS Messenger long before facebook came along. And yes, the rest of what you say about WLM is common here as well. We've all picked up plenty of girls through it.

  • Axing on March 15? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CajunArson (465943) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:01AM (#42531931) Journal

    No No No, for the Ides of March you need to STAB messenger to death. We come here to bury Messenger, not to praise it!

  • If you use messenger for IM purposes still, this is a huge downgrade. Skype is comparatively terrible when it comes to text chat.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:04AM (#42531991) Homepage Journal

    Apparently, even this bit of centuries old wisdom is lost on Microsoft...

  • "Microsoft on Tuesday mass emailed its 100 million+ Messenger users to let them know that the service is officially being retired on March 15, 2013

    I've never used messenger, never signed up for it, never even been to the registration page, and I still got an email notice telling me that I need to switch to skype. I think they just emailed everyone who has ever used hotmail, or any variation since it's creation.

  • Makes me wonder what they're going to do about the Messenger clients built in to: Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7, Xbox 360, etc. If these clients are going to stop working, will they push out replacement updates for all of them in time? I doubt it. The current version of Windows 8 Skype app is awful - if that's going to be their primary IM solution on Windows 8 then they're going to have to improve it pretty rapidly between now and mid-March.
  • Who needs any of these when you have the opportunity to go back ti Microsoft Comic Chat? http://www.digitalspace.com/avatars/cc1.jpg [digitalspace.com]
  • Annoying because I use it regularly to communicate with customers and vendors in China and Skype isn't available for BlackBerry. I guess Yahoo! Messenger ugh.
  • Haven't they ever heard of Beware the Ides of March [wikipedia.org] ? This will not end well, I fear.

  • by bobjr94 (1120555) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:44AM (#42532551) Homepage
    Im pretty sure the IT guys at my wife's school, and likely tons of other businesses, will not install skype on their computer, she hardly got away with getting messenger. Skype has a bad reputation and is seen as something kids use to video chat with their boyfriends and girlfriends, many don't even know it can be used a text messenger application.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @12:00PM (#42532781) Journal

    Consider Retroshare. It's an encrypted friend to friend network, with chat, filesharing, and a VOIP plugin. It uses the PGP web of trust model, so a little user education is necessary. But it's got a nice clicky gui and works pretty well. The more people who use it, the better it will get, so give it a look.

  • Ok, they're both related to skype, but does anyone really think these two items belong in the same story?
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @12:27PM (#42533163)

    VB6, Winforms, VBScript, Windows 8.... It's Microsoft once again saying, "Screw your *and* your client's investments in time, money and learning." We just had a 20-something developer with no business sense show a clueless manager with no technical expertise a new technology and we're running with it!

    • VB6, Winforms, VBScript

      Given that all of the above still work, what's your point?

      (yes, you can't develop VB6 apps on Vista and above, but they run just fine even on Win8)

      • "Working" is such an interesting term. In our lab environment VBScript started crashing after some otherwise unremarkable Windows security updates that corporate would not let us roll back, necessitating our rewriting everything in Powershell. Winforms will "work" until your client demands that the application be web accessible, at which point YOU get to spend the money and time to recode, or lose the business. Then you recode in WPF and/or Silverlight. As we speak, Microsoft efforts on Silverlight and WPF

  • I know my messenger or communicator or whatever got screwed over already when MS changed over to "MS Lync", so now they are changing to Skype?

    Meh. I just won't use it at work anymore, too much of a PITA.

    Outside that its FB messanger now anyway. (Who I hear are entering the VOIP and video relms as well, likely to position themselves against MS Skype)

  • SIP and NAT just don't get along, SIP is made for an ideal IPv6 world.

    Technologically there's no trouble at all making a Skype replacement but try getting people, and worse yet telcos, to accept no-cost voice, text and video communications. See also: The existence of WhatsApp right in the face of XMPP.

  • Not only that, the skype UI just plain sucks for IM. No tabbed chats on compact mode, and on regular mode they are vertical and weak, weak notifications, non-functional recent conversations tab and lots more. I emailed them about it and they told me that indeed they were revising their client due to missing features that are already in WLM and know lots of people like/use.

    WLM may not be the best or most used out there, but at least its UI works a lot better for IM compared to skype

  • Sure, they say they're sending to 100+ Million users, but only a tiny fraction of those are actual people. They could have saved a lot of bandwidth.

  • I contracted at MS testing Messenger 1.0; it was so nice back then, 100 KILObyte install, unicode native, just plain worked.

    Then the Bloat...

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