Google Enters IM Market with Google Talk 

Following closely on the heels of its Monday release of Google Desktop 2, Internet search giant Google, which is quickly becoming a leading online media company, today launched the Google Talk IM service. Based on the Jabber IM standard, Google Talk can communicate with users of Jabber, iChat, and Trillian, and Google says it will soon open up the tool to users of MSN Messenger Yahoo Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).

Google Talk is open to the public and is free without ads and requires a Gmail user account. "Users without a Gmail account will receive one when they sign up for Google Talk," the company says, provided they don't mind giving Google their cell phone number to prevent people from squatting on valuable email addresses.

Compared with other IM solutions, Google Talk is lean both graphically and feature wise. Although the system offers text and voice chatting and a clean uncluttered interface, it doesn't offer any video features and can't be used as a telephony solution. However, Google's products are perpetually in beta and are often upgraded quickly. The company says that its rapid fire update policy and adherence to Internet standards will set Google Talk apart from the competition.

"Communications is very important for the transmission of information," Georges Harik, the director of product management at Google said. "This is a natural extension of what we're doing in communications."

Google is entering a crowded market. Today the IM market is dominated by AOL with 41.6 million active users, Yahoo with 19.1 million users, and MSN Messenger with 14.2 million users. However, Google's recent moves suggest that the company isn't particularly afraid of fighting for established turf. Google's recently released Google Desktop 2 includes a feature called Sidebar that closely resembles the UI work Microsoft is planning for Windows Vista. Sidebar includes extensible panes that can deliver Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, email, news clips, photos, and other information. And its free. Gmail email system, which offers 2GB and more of storage space for free, is poised to steal market share from Microsoft's Hotmail and Yahoo Mail now that it's being made more widely available. Meanwhile, Google is also squaring off against Microsoft and Yahoo in Internet Search and related technologies.

In related news, Microsoft this week released MSN Messenger 7.5, the latest version of its consumer oriented IM client. MSN Messenger 7.5 adds full screen video conferencing, high quality voice communications, and other features. Like Google Talk, MSN Messenger 7.5 is free.

Intel Outlines Plans for Next Generation Processors 

As expected, microprocessor giant Intel yesterday revealed sweeping changes to its entire product line. The company will port the core technology from its Pentium M mobile chips to its desktop and server products over the next 2 years. The change means that Intel will concentrate less on increasingly meaningless gigahertz ratings and more on multicore chips that feature better power management and energy saving functionality in addition to raw performance.

"We need to think about measuring performance against a new metric and that is performance per watt," Intel CEO Paul Otellini said during a keynote address at the company's annual Intel Developer Forum (IDF). Otellini said that Intel is now targeting a meager 5 watts of power consumption for mobile chips 65 watts for desktop chips and 80 watts for server chips. By comparison, today's desktop microprocessors consume 80 watts to 120 watts of power he said.

To meet these specifications, Intel is revamping every microprocessor product it makes. Although the company didn't divulge any new branding for these chips it did reveal a few details about the products it expects to ship over the next few years. A next generation Pentium M chip for mobile computers, code named Yohan, will be the first microprocessor in the new wave. Due in early 2006, Yohan will feature dual processor cores and 64-bit capabilities and will double the performance of today's Pentium M chips. A future generation Pentium M chip is code named Merom and will offer even better power savings and performance.

In the second half of 2006 Intel will begin shipping a successor to the Pentium 4 and Pentium D chips which are designed for desktop computers. The chip, code named Conroe, will feature dual cores and 64-bit capabilities but will consume far less power than today's desktop chips. Similar upgrades to the Xeon line, code named Woodcrest, are expected in late 2006 as well. Otellini didn't mention the Itanium, but the company earlier revealed plans to migrate that line of processors to dual core designs by the end of 2005.

On the low end, Intel is also working on a super low power version of its existing Pentium 4 design that will consume just one half watt of power and be used to power a new type of handheld computer Otellini referred to as a hand top. "This system will be powerful enough to run Windows Vista and will ship before 2010," he said. "By 2007 Intel will begin switching its chips over to four core designs once again doubling the processing capacity per chip."