Audio & Video Chat Software

Why Skype is the New Solitaire

Have you ever played the lonely card game, Solitaire?  I bet most of you have, at-one-time-or-another, played Solitaire on a Windows PC.  Don’t be ashamed, you remember, right next to Minesweeper? These two games came preloaded on PCs starting with Windows 3.1.  And because they came preloaded, we all played them, at least once.  I personally have played them hundreds of times, and I bet my mom has played them thousands of times!

Windows 3.1 Solitaire Minesweeper
Solitaire and Minesweeper on Microsoft Windows 3.1. Image courtesy of

Sure, you may have played Solitaire using real cards, before Windows digitized it.   But the truth is that Solitaire was not exactly popular in the 1980s (unless you were in your 80s).  And it didn’t’ get mainstream until Windows included it in their typical 3.1 installation.  Secretaries, stock boys, and network administrators across the country started playing just out of curiosity, to kill time during their lunch break (or maybe not during their lunch breaks).

Then along came the Internet, cell phones, text messaging, AIM, Napster, Friendster, MySpace, and a zillion other ways to pass the time online, and suddenly Solitaire wasn’t so popular.  Nowadays, the biggest extra-curricular activity in most offices is Facebook, with Twitter a close second.  But tell me, readers, how did you first get online?  Ever use a program called Internet Explorer?   Sure, many of you are surfing using Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Rockmelt, but chances are you have tried IE at least once, right?

What about MSNBC?  Not exactly a channel I would order on its own, but I will admit, I have definitely seen it, because it was part of a larger cable television package.

This is what Microsoft is good at: putting various programs into a package and selling that package.  Look at Microsoft Office, the standard in 80% of America’s corporate office buildings, and most often installed as a package.  Last week, it was announced that Microsoft is acquiring Skype, which until recently was used mostly by college kids keeping in touch with their parents and international friends. By purchasing Skype and putting it into Windows, Office, XBox 360, and Windows Phones, Microsoft will introduce video chatting to Corporate Middle America, just like it introduced Solitaire.  No need to download anything, your Outlook contacts are automatically imported, just click and go.  Need to setup a webinar or teleconference? Now it can all be done through Microsoft Office!

The biggest difference between Skype and Solitaire, of course, is that you can’t video chat alone.  Or can you? There are currently  websites, programs, and apps that will randomly connect you with another random someone via video chat.  But readers,  be warned: I heard about half the video feeds feature up close shots of male private parts.  Yikes!  I’d rather play Solitaire. :)


5 thoughts on “Audio & Video Chat Software

  1. Toto must have pulled some traffic, I’m searching for a widget now :)


  2. I’m going to have to agree with you on the Solitaire preference over any of those close-ups! My most memorable first experiences getting online were clicking on the famous AOL triangle, listening to the dial up song followed sloooooowly by my computer telling me “Welcome” then usually following up with those coveted 3 little words of the time: “You’ve Got Mail” – fond memories of AOL helping me build my own AOL member web page that I managed to add “midi” files to for that little musical flair. You haven’t lived life until you’ve had your own web page with “Africa” by Toto playing in midi format ;)


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