MSN takes on Skype


What is the big problem with Microsoft? They do a lot of things, most of them are either poor or average at best. Occasionally like Microsoft Office for Mac, they are very very good. Their products have a feeling of feature creep to it. Microsoft Outlook perhaps is the only product they get right (on surface, but miss out on security. But being a Mac user, not my problem!) I feel the same more-is-better approach in their yet another attempt to reinvent MSN Messenger software. According to Microsoft this is more VoIP friendly, and will allow people to make phone calls just like Skype. Okay the new MSN lets you make PC2PC video calls, like Apple’s iChat. I think MSN IM client has finally caught up with Apple’s iChat, though comparing itself to Skype (as in today’s Wall Street Journal) is much cooler!

Skype ( and I am no fan of the security problems they pose or their proprietary technology) is an Internet Voice client that does some IM, while MSN is an IM client that is pretending to do voice, along with hotmail e-mail service and MSN Spaces, their luke warm blogging tool. Guess which one is better! (Get the MSN Space free, as long as Microsoft can hang a billboard on it. Bah!)

Talking about the IP voice, Robin Kellet, product manager for MSN Messenger in Europe, told the Wall Street Journal, that they have ripped out “the old architecture and put a new one in,” which means now the “software can now make calls through corporate firewalls that would normally block Internet calls.” Oh goody yet another Microsoft vulnerability to exploit, but again being a Mac user, not my problem. I want to know more about how this will work – what technology they are using? Will there be a PC2PSTN phone service? Does it use SIP? Nothing? What Microsoft – despite Scoble – doesn’t get that the whole VoIP thing is happening in the “open media space.” I still like their enterprise VoIP initiative!



While it’s true that Skype uses proprietary technology, at least they use some encryption. With SIP, you could have TLS/SSL and SRTP, but hardly any of the VoIP providers are using them.




It’ll eventually go one of two ways, full article feeds with ads, or summary feeds without. I prefer the latter, because it doesn’t kill RSS’s original goal: notifying users of new content. Making it deliver all the content is stretching it a bit.

Om Malik

i go over that in my head – wonder whether it is right to be putting ads in rss feeds which actually are in your space, versus the website which is in space. its a debate i have often wrestled with – not decided about that. but thanks for your vote of confidence


Om wrote:

“you always have the option of reading this in the rss reader where it is going to be free sans the ads. think about that!”

Why not have ads in RSS? Feedburner can do it. I’m all for stuff that helps compensate bloggers.


MSN Messenger has had video chat for ages, since the NetMeeting days. So it wasn’t exactly catching up.

Om Malik

apparently they have a better voice engine and they can not bore through firewalls. not sure what’s new, but comparing yourself to skyp is kinda trendy these days


I don’t get it the MSN client has the ability to do voice calls for a long time now. Voice and video really. The only only point to comparing themselves to sype would be to say they are going to bridge to normal phones, otherwise they are already the same product essentially. Which is to say just another instant message client (JAIM) with crap wrapped around it that almost works some times. Skype does a good job of working through cooperate firewalls MS does not… maybe they are claiming to fix that or the NAT problems with their VOIP :p. Whole release sounds silly.

Om Malik

you always have the option of reading this in the rss reader where it is going to be free sans the ads. think about that!

Louis Davidson

(Get the MSN Space free, as long as Microsoft can hang a billboard on it. Bah!)

Um, I see more adverts on your site for Verizon than I ever see on the MSN site, so bah right back at you!

Om Malik

I think Yahoo is not a basket case, and MSN has to yet prove its utility. i think you miss the point – too many features can sometimes turn people off and you will see that happen in the case of MSN as well. I think the killer VoIP app has to support open standards like SIP and has to add value to the existing applications in a new sort of a way!

Randal Leeb-du Toit

Om, so Skype has issues from your perspective… MSN, Yahoo are basket cases — given you had the opportunity to create the one killer private VoIP application biz …what would it look like.

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