The slow dance between Facebook and Microsoft is spinning off more interesting angles than we can hardly keep up with. Microsoft, the software giant, is a key investor in Facebook and this relationship seems to be paying off big for both companies. Facebook has recently started testing a Facebook Messenger for Windows that currently runs on Windows 7 only but may be expanded to other Operating Systems in the near future. The new Facebook Messenger for Windows only supports Facebook chat, Update ticker and notifications although there is a high possibility that the chat client may also be optimized for video calls. According to Facebook:
Messenger for Windows is a new trial application that lets you use Facebook without being on www.facebook.com. While you surf the web or use other applications on your computer, you can:
- Chat and message with your friends on Facebook
- See the latest updates from your friends in ticker
- Get quick notifications about what’s going on
We’re testing out a first version of the app with a small group of people. During this trial period, we plan on rolling out changes to the app and expect outages and periods of instability as we make improvements. Note: Messenger for Windows will automatically install updates.
Facebook seem to be following in the footsteps of Microsoft who integrated their Windows Live desktop Messenger with Facebook and this allows users to chat up their Facebook friends directly from the Windows chat client.
This latest move by Facebook to introduce an in-house built Facebook Messenger for Windows is seen as a play to get into the hardware space where it would be easier to lock out competition if new machines came preloaded with a Facebook client, the Microsoft way. This shows the influence that Microsoft wields in Facebook as this is the same path that Microsoft took decades ago and has today been able to remain dominant in a highy dynamic and competitive software market.
To illustrate this, the rumours circulating about a Facebook phone seem to exemplify the similarity between the path Facebook is tracking now and the well-beaten track that Microsoft have been treading over the past. This does not come as a surprise as more and more tech companies move to consolidate their market positions through a triple-play approach: software, hardware and mid-ware and Amazon are another example of this shifting trend. (See Amazon story here)
Another interesting thing to note is that Skype, which Microsoft acquired from eBay, has just released a new version of their desktop client that is integrated with Facebook and allows you to call your Facebook friends from within the Skype console. The line between Microsoft and Facebook seems to be blurring further and further and it seems Facebook is becoming more Microsoft than the other way round.