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ExtraBITS for 4 October 2010

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Three extra bits for you this week: news of the fall and potential rise of the Xmarks cross-platform and cross-browser bookmark synchronization service, a release date for Microsoft Office 2011, and the debut of Amazon's Kindle for the Web, which is more a sales tool than a user-centric service.

Xmarks Bookmark Synchronization Service to Fold -- Some of us here at TidBITS were very bummed to read Steven Vaughan-Nichols's ZDNet blog post bemoaning the 10 January 2011 shutdown of Xmarks, which synchronizes bookmarks between different browsers, including Safari, Firefox, and Google Chrome, even across operating systems. We never got around to writing about Xmarks in TidBITS, but that was merely a lack of time, not a lack of enthusiasm. If only other synchronization services were as good! [Update: Since we initially linked to Steven's post, things have changed and it sounds as though Xmarks may have a second chance; see "Xmarks Is Dead. Long Live Xmarks?" on the Xmarks blog for details.]

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Microsoft Office 2011 Arrives 26 October -- It takes time to update powerful programs, but Microsoft says that Office 2011 for the Mac will be available on 26 October 2010 (it's available for pre-order now). The updated productivity suite promises performance boosts along with newly revealed extras such as Full Screen Mode - which lets you block out distractions while writing in Word - and Dynamic Reorder - which lets you reorder layers in documents and presentations. Office 2011 will be available in several editions: Home and Student Edition includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Messenger for $119. Home and Business Edition adds Outlook - which replaces Entourage - for $199. And the Academic Edition offers the entire suite, including Outlook, for just $99... if you're a higher education student, staffer, or faculty member.

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Amazon Debuts Kindle for the Web -- In the company's continuing effort to make the Kindle file format the de facto standard for electronic books (which should not be allowed to happen, given how inadequate the format is for anything but straight text), Amazon.com has launched "Kindle for the Web," which lets site owners embed Kindle book previews on their sites. Realistically, Kindle for the Web is just a way to encourage people to preview the first chapter of a Kindle-format book in a Web browser, after which they can purchase the ebook for reading on a Kindle device or in Kindle software on a Mac, iOS device, or Windows-based PC. It's a smart move on Amazon's part, and notably different from how Apple has restricted access to the iBookstore to the iBooks app.

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