By Dylan Tweney | VentureBeat.com
You may not be using Google+, but your friends probably are.
If they’re not hanging out and posting photos of cute puppies and sunsets, there’s a good chance they are using Google+ to log in to various web sites — and increasingly, they’re also clicking the +1 button to share those sites. In fact, it’s the clear number two social network according to a variety of measurements.
A new study commissioned by Janrain shows that, of the people who use social networks to log in to other websites, almost half (46 percent) use Facebook. ButGoogle+ is in a strong second place, with 34 percent of social logins. (Janrain makes tools to help web developers use social network logins on their sites.)
That bolsters the claim that Google+, despite its late start, is solidifying its position as the number 2 social network after Facebook.
In a distant third place: Yahoo, with just 7 percent of social logins; and Twitter, with 6 percent.Google+ launched to a limited number of users in June, 2011, and more widely in September of that year. In the two years since then, it has zoomed past social networks that were years ahead and had hundreds of millions of users already: LinkedIn, Twitter, and a handful of Chinese social networks.
Google+ now has more than 500 million registered users and 343 million active users, according to independent study by GlobalWebIndex from December, 2012.
Facebook is twice as big, claiming over a billion registered users, while GlobalWebIndex estimates it has almost 700 million active users.
But Google+ is growing faster, according to some measurements. It’s holding steady on social logins, according to Janrain’s data, growing just a fraction of a percent in Q2 2013. (Facebook sharing also stayed at roughly the same level.)
But sharing on both networks is increasing rapidly — only it’s growing much faster on Google+. People who use Facebook are sharing 10 percent more each month, in aggregate, while Google+ shares (aka +1s) are growing by 19 percent per month, according to a recent estimate by Searchmetrics, which tracks social network data.
At that rate, Searchmetrics estimated, Google will surpass Facebook by May 2016, at which time its users will generate over 1,096 billion +1s per month (yes, more than a trillion) while Facebook users will generate just 849 billion shares per month.
However you look at it — registered users, active users, social logins, or shares — Google+ is a surprisingly serious second. And it may even be a contender for the #1 spot in a few years.
Now if I could only find some people to hang out with on Google+.
Microsoft is looking to please Wednesday as it kicks off its annual BUILD developers conference in San Francisco with the launch of a retooled version of its Windows 8 operating system.
Company executives will take the stage at noon Eastern for a conference keynote, which the firm also is live-streaming on its Channel 9 community site.
Windows 8, launched last fall, was a major departure from the company’s traditional OS. Not only did Microsoft try a new, tile-based and touch-friendly design for the new system, it also split the Windows 8 system into two related versions: Windows RT, which only runs tablet apps, and the full version, which runs PC programs.
Adoption has been fairly slow for Windows 8 — it’s still under five percent, according toNet Market Share — making some people question whether Microsoft’s big redesign bet will be seen as a Vista-like flop.
Eager to head off that narrative, the firm is addressing some of the biggest criticisms of the operating system with an update that will be available for download starting Wednesday. Perhaps the most notable of these changes is the return of the old Start button, which took a brief leave of absence with Windows 8.
CNET reported that users will have the option to shut down or reboot with a right-click. Right-clicking also appears to bring back some, though not all, of the functions from the old Start menu.
Users also will be able to bypass the tiled Windows 8 start screen, which was designed to offer easy access to users’ favorite or most-used programs, in favor of alternate screens such as the traditional desktop.
Microsoft also has added a few more personalization options, meaning that users can set their own images for the Start screen background and move app tiles on the screen more easily. In addition, there are new search features, the ability to save things directly to Microsoft’s cloud-based storage service SkyDrive, and the option to change what the hot corners in Windows 8 do.
The firm announced several of these changes in a May blog post, and even showed off a couple of them at the Computex conference in Taipei earlier this month. At that conference, Microsoft officials announced that Microsoft would include the tablet-version of Outlook as part of the Office suite for Windows 8.1 RT devices.
The company, as ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reported earlier this month, has confirmed that the upgrade will be free for all existing Windows 8 users.
There has been much talk in the last decade about the need to get more broadband to rural America, and more lately about the large number of rural residents who still lack quality Internet service. Entrepreneur Diane Smith details in the Daily Yonder about how she used technology to start up a multi-million dollar company from the comfort of her home in Whitefish, Mont.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration chart
The Smith family moved from Washington, D.C., with the belief "that we could make a living just about anywhere that had fast and reliable communications connectivity, and we found it in Whitefish," she writes. Smith co-founded Vubiquity, which she says is the largest global provider of multi-platform video services, by raising more than $30 million through the Internet, crediting local businesses and residents with much of her success. "I don’t believe we would have had nearly such swift success had we been located in a more populated community or state." Her story shows the power and potential of high-speed Internet, she writes: "Broadband connected businesses bring in approximately $300,000 more in annual median revenues than non-broadband adopting businesses. Nearly one in three businesses earns revenue from online sales that account for $411.4 billion in annual revenues for U.S. companies. Sixty-five percent of home-based businesses use the Internet to stay in touch with customers, while 59 percent advertise or sell their goods online, and 98 percent of U.S. counties had at least one high-tech business establishment in 2011." (Read more)The recently passed Senate Farm Bill includes a pilot program to test ultra-fast Internet in five rural areas, and the Federal Communications Commission has said it will put $485 million as part of a public-private venture to expand broadband to rural areas.
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