Microsoft has been beta releasing several of its services under the new Windows Live brand and its instant messenger is the first application get a proper Windows Live release.
As a long time user of the old MSN instant messenger, I was keen to trial out the Windows Live version when offered the chance during the beta phase. Apart from the cleaner more user friendly interface, the new Windows Live instant messenger has a host of new and improved features.
Windows Live Messenger now includes free PC-to-PC calls and inexpensive calls from a PC to phones around the world, not to mention full screen video calling.
The enhancements included in the Windows Live release not only improve the existing functionality of instant messaging, but lay claim to a place at the forefront of VoIP and Video technology space. Microsoft is obviously sending out warning to the likes of AOL, Yahoo! and Google who all have their own instant messaging services, but more importantly, they have eBay’s Skype service square in their sights.
Skype was the first company to really capture the attention of the public with their free VoIP services. The power of internet telephony was suddenly made highly accessible to all and with the number of users growing exponentially in the US and around the world; it’s good timing on Microsoft’s part to start making inroads into this captive market.
Early reports suggest that the new Microsoft Windows Live Messenger’s VoIP and video capabilities are on par with Skype 2.0, so the playing field is well and truly even. The benefit Microsoft has over eBay’s Skype is the integration it offers with users’ email accounts, blogs, and other MSN/Windows Live services.
When you consider that Microsoft has over 240 million users compared to Skype’s 100 million users, not to mention the enormous base of free email customers, they are in the box seat to really dominate this space. Watch for the response from Yahoo! and Google to this latest release from Microsoft. Yahoo! has just given developers access to create applications for their messenger service, so the instant messenger market is sure to heat up quickly.
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