Hotmail have rolled out their new Web Messenger feature to users in select geographic areas, including the US, UK and parts of Europe. Without the need of Windows Live Messenger being installed, anybody soon using the Hotmail service, which many students do, can use the web version of Messenger to communicate with friends and colleagues, wherever they are.
No doubt users of Hotmail would have seen this at some point; with their own name in place of mine, of course.
The ability to communicate seamlessly with one another is incredibly important for not only group collaboration work, but generally for research and study aides. A lot of university networks don't always allow the installation of third-party products, let alone instant messengers, so by having a tool which connects you to your friends, colleagues and co-workers or researchers will enable better communication overall.
It sounds a bit pansy, but it is true - this will change how a lot of users communicate with each other; especially as it rivals Facebook IM.
If Outlook Live includes the instant messaging capabilities which Facebook and Hotmail now include, could this spark the death of the standard university web email function, and open it up to third-party services like Google and Microsoft?