Google Talk Tackles Chat, VOIP

By Lance Ulanoff  |  Posted 2005-08-24 Print this article Print

A lean, open interface sets this new instant message client apart.

Barely a day goes by without a rumor that search engine giant Google is entering yet another client software and online service arena. In a relatively short time, weve seen the company release products for desktop search, e-mail, mapping, news and shopping information aggregation.
Now Google tackles instant messaging and VOIP (voice over IP), with the introduction of the Google Talk Beta.
Starting today, Gmail (which is still in beta itself and invite only) users can download, install and run the client for free. According to Georges Harik, Googles Director of Product Management, "millions of users" and all Gmail members will find their existing contact lists instantly ported to the new instant messaging client. There isnt much to the Google Talk interface. In stark contrast to America Online Inc.s Instant Messenger and Microsofts MSN Messenger, Googles instant message interface includes no ads, search bar, scrolling stock tickers, videos, or even links to content from Googles numerous sites. This makes for an extremely lean interface and little but effective functionality. So while Google Talk Beta offers no emoticons, video or file transfer capabilities (features found in MSN and AOL clients), it does install and work smoothly. It also offers presence indicators in the form of colored buttons and contact name roll-overs that feature more info about the contacts status. Also notable is the inclusion of easy-to-use, full duplex—and free—VOIP that works with any PC that has a microphone and speakers. Read the full story on Google Talk Tackles Chat, VoIP Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
Lance Ulanoff is Editor in Chief and VP of Content for PC Magazine Network, and brings with him over 20 years journalism experience, the last 16 of which he has spent in the computer technology publishing industry.

He began his career as a weekly newspaper reporter before joining a national trade publication, traveling the country covering product distribution and data processing issues. In 1991 he joined PC Magazine where he spent five years writing and managing feature stories and reviews, covering a wide range of topics, including books and diverse technologies such as graphics hardware and software, office applications, operating systems and, tech news. He left as a senior associate editor in 1996 to enter the online arena as online editor at HomePC magazine, a popular consumer computing publication. While there, Ulanoff launched, and and wrote about Web sites and Web-site building.

In 1998 he joined Windows Magazine as the senior editor for online, spearheading the popular magazine's Web site, which drew some 6 million page views per month. He also wrote numerous product reviews and features covering all aspects of the computing world. During his tenure, won the Computer Press Association's prestigious runner-up prize for Best Overall Website.

In August 1999, Ulanoff briefly left publishing to join as producer for the Computing and Consumer Electronics channels and then was promoted to the site's senior director for content. He returned to PC Magazine in November 2000 and relaunched in July 2001. The new was named runner-up for Best Web Sites at the American Business Media's Annual Neal Awards in March 2002 and won a Best Web Site Award from the ASBPE in 2004. Under his direction, regularly generated more than 25 million page views a month and reached nearly 5 million monthly unique visitors in 2005.

For the last year and a half, Ulanoff has served as Editor, Reviews, PC Magazine. In that role he has overseen all product and review coverage for PC Magazine and, as well as managed PC Labs. He also writes a popular weekly technology column for and his column also appears in PC Magazine.

Recognized as an expert in the technology arena, Lance makes frequent appearances on local, national and international news programs including New York's Eyewitness News, NewsChannel 4, CNN, CNN HN, CNBC, MSNBC, Good Morning America Weekend Edition, and BBC, as well as being a regular guest on FoxNews' Studio B with Shepard Smith. He has also offered commentary on National Public Radio and been interviewed by radio stations around the country. Lance has been an invited guest speaker at numerous technology conferences including Digital Life, RoboBusiness, RoboNexus, Business Foresight and Digital Media Wire's Games and Mobile Forum.

Lance also serves as co-host of PC Magazine's weekly podcast, PCMag Radio.


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