Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Facebook Messenger: mini-Facebook desktop client

Facebook has quietly rolled out a stand-alone Facebook Messenger client for Windows last week.  Idea is a simple one. Take Facebook chat and make it run as Windows desktop application.  Just like Google has stand-alone Windows application of Google Talk and integrated chat client on Gmail site, Facebook is following suit.  Now you don't have dedicate a browser tab to have Facebook page open at all time.  Simply log on to Facebook Messenger, and it will keep you posted with all real time updates from your friends.
Facebook Messenger for Windows;
Don't despair Mac users,
Mac version is on the way
If you are poo-pooing the idea of installing yet another IM client on your desktop, think again.  Facebook Messenger is not just another IM client.  It provides Facebook real-time ticker updates just like facebook.com.  This means you can log on to the Facebook IM client, and see all real-time ticker updates scrolling by as you are multitasking your way through the day.  Conveniently it also shows three notification icons at the top of IM client so that you can be drawn back into Facebook.  

There is other feature that makes this IM client useful.  It's the fact that instant messages exchanged through this IM client are all captured and available from facebook.com under Messages page.  It is not anything new.  Google Talk client on Gmail site had this capability for a while.  But what Facebook does well is presenting all exchanged messages in one thread.  It's easier to follow the conversation in a thread than in separate transcripts.  It's like having a persistent chat room between you and any friend on Facebook.  Your message is captured at all time in a thread (note to Facebook users: everything and anything that you share on social media is not going away, and you really don't have control over).

There are also things that are left to be desired.  Facebook Messenger does not support group chat at the moment, it does not allow video chat.  Both of these capabilities are available from facebook.com.  Let's hope that Facebook rolls out updates soon.  Judging from the history, we have a good chance that we'll get these features sooner than we think.  Once that happens, it will become a real contender to Skype and Google Talk.

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