What is MSN Messenger?

First off, it's free and boy do we like free.

Basically, MSN Messenger is a Microsoft product that allows you to talk to your friends across the internet. There are various ways you can communicate. Most commonly by typing messages to one another. This all happens in a small window that only appears when you want it to.

Before you start worrying about things like privacy, there are a number of easy controls you can set in place to make sure you aren't disturbed when you don't want to be.

Installing is simple. It self installs when you download it from the Microsoft website. Once installed, you have control over the people you want to be able to talk to. Imagine it as a telephone directory where you choose who goes in. I won't cover how to add someone into your Messenger directory as it is explained in the program itself. Suffice to say you will need to know the other persons details and they obviously need to have Messenger installed on their computer.

The only details needed of a person you wish to put in your directory is their Messenger email address. Commonly, folk use a Hotmail address for that rather than their prime ISP email address.

Now for a few other things Messenger is good for

Once you have mastered talking to one another using type talk, so long as you have a mic wired into your PC and speakers (or headphones) you can talk verbally. This is great for talking to that long lost aunt in the Antartica, if you so wish and of course, long lost aunt needs to have similar equipment fitted.

It has a handy function that allows you to send files to one another very simply. By selecting a file you wish to send, simply drag the file and drop it into the type talk box and click Send. This becomes very useful when discussing topics with someone and you want to show them a file.

There's even a thing called Whiteboard. Its just like the white board you see in seminars and at school. It allows you to sit and draw a diagram which in turn appears on the other persons computer screen as you draw. Great for discussing those football team line ups and tactics :) If nothing else, you can use it to play Noughts and Crosses 

One major faciiltiy though which I advise caution on using is the Remote PC action. It allows you to operate the other persons PC as if it were your own. As I say, be very careful in allowing anyone access to this feature (and it won't let you give permission without an awful lot of asking 'Are you sure?') as it does give FULL access and the remote person can delete, create and do whatever you can do. Just as a note to this though, it is a very useful feature if you have two or more PC's in your house as you can use this a simple network function.

Messenger and all the details is available from here. CLICK HERE (oh, and there is a MAC user version too).