MSN Messenger 6 ‘not as simple or satisfying’ as Apple’s iChat AV

“Crossing video with AOL Instant Messenger is a winner. Better start wearing clothes when working from home,” writes Peter Lewis for Fortune. “Video teleconferencing over the Internet isn’t new. Just minutes after scientists discovered how to transmit two-way voice, video, and text streams between computers, sex-starved nerds were offering their credit card numbers to interactive peep-show services. Before long, travel-averse businesses started exploring Internet-based video teleconferencing. Even so, until now rigging a computer to act as a videophone generally has been more trouble than it’s worth, with tiny, fuzzy pictures and walkie-talkie voice delays.”

Lewis writes, “Apple is changing all that with software that makes Internet-based video chats cheap and simple, using the popular AOL Instant Messaging (AIM) and its own .Mac services. With the new iChat AV prototype software (free, for now) and an iSight digital web camera ($149), a Mac user with a high-speed connection can “call” home from a business trip, sympathize as his youngster shows off a skinned knee (or a new piercing), make goo-goo eyes or grouse with the spouse for an hour, and never pay a dime to the phone company.”

“Microsoft is cooking up something similar with its MSN Messenger version 6.0, now in testing. It’s not as simple or satisfying as Apple’s offering. Still, Windows outsells Apple’s Mac OS X more than ten to one, so it’s bound to expose more people to the idea of Internet-based video chat,” lewis reports. “Apple’s market share remains disproportionately small compared with the large impact it is having on the computer industry through innovative products like iChat AV and iSight, the iMac, the iPod, and the iTunes Music Store. Maybe these new products will open some more eyes.”

Full article here.


  1. I wrote Fortune at the feedback link at the bottom of the atricle and suggested a 6 month challenge for a story. Equip offfices in 5 different enterprises with Mac OS X based desktop and laptops and compare them with similar offices in the same organizations running Red Hat LINUX or Windows XP Pro. I also suggested that Apple, M$ and Red Hat, or reps acceptable to them, be allowed to review the setups in advance to assure no gaffes were made in the setup. Let the people use them, then report the results. May the best OS win.

  2. “One catch: Your buddies must be on AOL’s Instant Messenger service, which is free, or Apple’s .Mac service, which costs $100 a year.”

    This part is incorrect. You can simply use a free .Mac name for iChat AV. i.e. sign up to .Mac for a free trial and then, if you don’t decide to subscribe, you can continue to use the .Mac name for iChat AV. I have not done so (I was already an iChat user) but I think iChat AV leads you through this simple process too. You can also use an AOL buddy name or AIM name.

    See Apple’s press release…

    Where it says “Mac users can use their existing names with iChat or get a free name in seconds if they don�t already have one.”

  3. Re NoPCZone’s comment… if someone cares to monitor it, this experiment is already happening for real. See MacDailyNews Tuesday, July 08, 2003 – 03:54 PM EDT: University equips each lab workstation with two computers; one Mac and one Windows

  4. Can you hear it?! The death-gurgle of Microsoft is happening. MSN is working on this thing and MS is working on that thing.. to be released years from now. They are all poor copies, and Apple’s innovation and technology lead is continuing to grow; now measured in years! It is apparent that the new G5 is poised for future growth while Pentium is reaching its ceiling.

    It is already making the Apple stores look like the “MS-in-4-years… maybe!” store.

    For the superficial, all they see is cute graphics and a similar feature list. I brought a MS-programming-friend with me to see the keynote at the Woodfield Mall (IL) Apple store. He kept commenting how “MS already has that”. Being the major geek programmer, he never sees the ease of use and beauty, just the spec sheet. He was oblivious to the differences between iChatAV quality and existing Wintel video chat. I am quite sure that he thinks it will take a whole afternoon to set it up to get it all working, and then there will always be bugs.

    I wish Apple would update and reintroduce their commercial showing a child racing a professional at setting up an iMac and a WIntel box. I’d like to see it updated where they open a brand new box, set it up, video chat with a friend and send the same friend a picture from a digital camera.

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