Lynne d Johnson



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07.04.06 03:03 PM

just when i was getting used to skype

I don't usually pay attention to the features in Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, AIM, Google Talk, or even iChat b/c I use Fire on the desktop and Agile Messenger on the Pocket PC phone and can therefore log into all those services from one client.

I use Skype to actually talk to people or make phone calls, but it seems that with the recent releases of some of the messenger services I've been doing myself a disservice by paying them no mind. Video conferencing and PC-to-Phone calls are just some of the latest developments in the messenger arena.

Since I'm a Mac user, I'll start there with what's new in offerings for messenger products...

Microsoft Messenger for Mac
Formerly known as MSN Messenger for Mac, this IM client's upgrade somewhat parallels the official release of Windows Live Messenger that became available for PCs on June 19. Windows Live offers VOIP and full screen video chat. The overall focus on the product is its ease-of-use of business. Messenger for Mac 5.1.1 features:

  • You can have both personal and corporate conversations going at the same time (If your organization uses Microsoft Live Communications Server. Think of it as a feature akin to Bonjour on iChat. Though you're on Microsoft Messenger and the person in the cube next to you is on AIM, you'll be able to connect through Microsoft Live.)

  • The GUI looks a lot like Safari or iChat

  • Multiple File Transfer

Yahoo Messenger for Mac
On June 29, Yahoo released a new beta messenger for Mac users. 3.0 Beta 1 has a new easier-to-use GUI with support for Yahoo Avatars. There's also the option to use your webcam with the product. Plus there's more:

  • custom stealth settings

  • custom status messages

  • animated sign-in and sign-out

  • group organization for contacts

  • new sound effects and visual notifications

  • alerts for Yahoo! Calendar, Mail and Personals

  • IM with friends that use Windows Live™ (MSN) Messenger (Yahoo!, MSN chat interop steps out)

AIM 4.7 for Macintosh
There hasn't been a major rev here in quite some time so there isn't much to report. Overall, AOL is a bit tardy out-the-gate on being able to journey on the frontiers in which the other messenger products are traveling. Yet there is news that AOL testing AIM Pro Professional Edition (PE) — highlighting the (supposed) urgency of corporations to have messenger solutions that influence collaboration and workgroup processes. Oh and lest we forget that the AIM API enables development of AIM plug-ins.

iChat AV 3
When Mac's OS gets an upgrade to Leopard, rumors flourish that VOIP willl be an added feature of iChat 4.0.

Google Talk
There's nothing really new on the Google Talk front, though speculation is heavy on Google VOIP. Google Caller ID Via Google Talk Coming Soon?

How will the messenger-meets-VOIP fray play out in the end and what will it mean for Skype? And where do players like Vonage and SunRocket fit in? Let's also not forget our friendly telephone and cable service providers that offer VOIP.

Who really knows.

For now I'm staying with Skype.

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