Online chat, also called instant messaging (IM for short), is a very simple concept. You open a chat program, choose a person you want to communicate with, and then type a text message. That message goes across the Internet to a chat server and from there to the other person’s computer, where it appears on his screen in his chat program. Then, he types a response and sends it back to you to respond to if you choose. A chat conversation could comprise a few messages or it could go on for hours, the same as any conversation.
Why IM? I admit that for a long time I really didn’t see the usefulness of it, and it was often an annoyance more than anything else. For one, I type about 80 words a minute, and many of the other people I chatted with type much more slowly. So, I spent a lot of time waiting for responses to what I typed. What’s more, I usually focused on the chat session to the exclusion of whatever else I was doing at the time, which added to my frustration — it was much easier to me to pick up the phone, have a short conversation, and be done.
I have a much better appreciation for online chat now because I use it extensively in my day job. As an IT manager, I spend at least four or five hours each day on the phone in conference calls. If the phone were my only source of communication, I’d get very little done. Throw e-mail and chat into the mix, however, and I can get a lot done. So, when I’m on a call, I’m also writing and receiving e-mail, chatting online with others, and, occasionally, talking on yet another phone call. In fact, quite often I’m chatting with other people who are on the same conference call while someone else is speaking. This behind-the-scenes communication is particularly useful when customers are on the call and you need to share some internal-only information.
Following are the benefits that IM brings to a typical work environment:
• Easy access to others: A chat conversation is just a couple of clicks away, and I can tell from the chat program (in this case, Messenger) that the other person is online.
• Quick conversations: If I just have a quick question, I can ask it in a chat session and get a response back usually fairly quickly.
•Multitasking: Usually, a one-on-one phone call consumes the majority of your attention.
With a chat session, you can send a message and then focus on other tasks while you wait for a response.
• Instant notes: I routinely use IM to send or receive information about servers, applications, and the like. I can copy that information right from the IM program and use it in other programs. The phrase ‘‘IM that to me’’ is pretty common these days.
IM is much the same for a home user, except that the conversations are generally personal in nature, such as you might have over the phone. The difference is that, unlike with a phone, you might be carrying on several IM conversations at the same time.
Programs such as Windows Live Messenger enable you to communicate with people in real time, whether they are in the next room or on the other side of the planet. In general, IM is free, other than the cost of having your Internet connection. To use IM, you need only an IM program (such as Messenger) and an online account, which are generally free.
Source of Information : Windows 7 Bible
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