MSN Messenger 6

I am still quite shocked at the number of people who don’t know about the existence of MSN Messenger which is built into many versions of Windows and also is freely available from handy little tool allows you to chat with people over the Internet, offering the spontaneity of a chat room crossed with the more personalised nature of e-mail.Once downloaded, you create a user name and password for yourself and then add other people to your list of ‘buddies’ who also have MSN Messenger so whenever they are connected to the Internet with the program running in the background then you can have a quick chat to them over the computer.

The latest incarnation of this little utility, version 6 was released not so long ago and so thought this would be the ideal time to cover not only the new features but what MSN can do for you if you’ve never used the program before in your life.

Okay, you’ve downloaded and installed MSN Messenger 6 from the address given above, signed up for your own free user name and password and also persuaded your friends with Internet access to do the same.MSN will now sit in the background and sign you in whenever you connect to the Internet unless you instruct it otherwise so when online you can now send and receive instant messages, pictures and files with other friends who happen to be on the Internet at the same time as you.Not only that but those with a webcam and a microphone attached to their PC can also see and hear the people they are communicating with over MSN; whether they are just down the road or half way across the world.

To be honest, it’s no where near as personal as talking over the phone but it isn’t meant to be; if I’m pulling a late shift or even working throughout the day then it is often nice for people to pop up every now and again who’ll entertain me whilst I’m working.You can still get along with your work at the same time which is something you can’t do if you have to hold a mobile in one hand giving someone your undivided attention.Of course if you’re busy or don’t want to be distracted then you can always sign out of MSN Messenger which makes it impossible for people to contact you in this fashion.

For those of you who were familiar with the older versions of MSN then you’ll probably want to know what’s changed in the latest release and would it be worthwhile you upgrading.The main difference is the user interface; it looks a lot more slick than previous versions, is much more customisable and allows you to select your own picture that others will be able to see whilst typing messages to you.

Emoticons (smiling faces and the such that are used to convey emotions in text only conversions) are now customizable and there is a greater selection of standard and animated ones built in, the background of your conversation is also customisable and can be shared with the person you are chatting too.You can also play simple multiplayer games if the mood takes your fancy, along with the other interactive accessories that were available in the previous versions such as ‘whiteboard’ which allows you to share the application ‘paint’ with a number of other people simultaneously.

Along with a number of other small modifications, it all sounds like pretty irreverent stuff that doesn’t warrant an upgrade but you would be surprised by the difference between this and previous versions.For those of you who already have MSN Messenger then download the latest update now (it will only take 20 minutes or so on a standard 56k connection) and those that don’t should consider doing so if any of the above appeals to them; after all it is free.Please note that version 6 is only compatible with Windows 98 and above so Windows 95 users will have to download the older version 5 from the same site.

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.