In a recent article in the New York Times, author David Pogue looks at the two major new instant messaging clients to be released in the last week: Microsoftis MSN Messenger 6, and Appleis iChat AV. Both pieces of beta software allow users to not only chat in text, but to see and hear those they are communicating with as well. In the article, Mr. Pogue takes a look at both clients, comparing and contrasting the new features and requirements. From The New York Times:
Microsoft, true to tradition, has focused on expanding its list of features, while Apple has worked toward elegance and simplicity. Messenger is a cacophony of brightly colored buttons, panels, blinking advertisements and, in the new version, animated (and even homemade) smileys; iChat AV maintains the clean lines and brushed-metal "surfaces" of its text-only predecessors. The new features of Messenger 6 include custom window backgrounds and interactive games like checkers; iChat AV is dedicated solely to communication. Messenger 6, in its ultimate form, will be free; iChat AV will cost $30 (but will be free with Appleis next operating-system release, Mac OS X 10.3, code-named Panther, due by yearis end).
Mr. Pogue goes on to offer some specific thoughts on the quality of the two products. Though he never actually says that iChat AV is the superior product, he does infer it. From the article:
MSN Messenger works with almost any old Webcam, like one of those $60 golf-ball cameras that you perch on your monitor and plug into your PC with a U.S.B. cable. (You also need a free MSN.com or Hotmail account; iChat AV requires a free .Mac or AOL Instant Messenger account. The MSN-Hotmail and .Mac-AIM networks are still, alas, mutually incompatible.)
If both conversation partners have high-speed Internet connections or are on the same office network, Messengeris video looks very good. You have only three size choices for the video - small, smaller or microscopic - but itis bona fide video.
Apple, on the other hand, would sooner die than release anything that could be described as "stuttering" or "microscopic." In iChat AV, video is as crisp, clear, bright and smooth as television (640 by 480 pixels), in a window as small as a Triscuit or as big as your screen. Unless you begin to type, the typed-chat window isnit even visible during a video or audio call.