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Both Google and Microsoft have been clashing in many products and services that they offer to users like us. In the real-time communication service for one, a good comparison can be made between Microsoft's newly refurbished and more open and social Live Messenger Client and Google's very own Lively space. Although both services are entirely different in the way they tackle the online communications arena, both are nonetheless ways by which you can communicate with anybody online, anytime and anyplace. And both services are being offered for free.
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In form and environment, Google Lively closely resembles Second Life and in fact may seem a clone if not for the Google branding. Like Second Life, Google Lively is a 3D virtual space where you can create an Avatar that would represent your in the Lively Virtual World. You can make your Avatar perform various actions as - laugh, high-five another avatar and even make him/her dance. After creating your Avatar, you can immediately create a virtual space called rooms where you can invite others to interact with your Avatar. To make it even more fun and exciting, you are allowed to design your own rooms and invite your friends to help you decorate your virtual rooms. To design your rooms, you can make use of the available items or you "shop for more" items. The good thing about Google Lively not really having managed to get into the mainstream is the fact that shopping for more items to use in decorating your rooms won't cost you any form of money, at least in the Lively world.
There are other things you can do with your Avatar in Google Lively, although if you are a Second Life citizen, don't expect too much in terms of features and other cool stuff. Google Lively is still in its initial stages and has not really made significant mileage in the virtual world landscape. But if you are getting tired of Second Life and want a simple virtual world to play around with. and of course a different way of communication with your friends and contacts through an interactive and cool-looking environment, Google Lively offers a good alternative.
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Unlike Google Lively, Live Messenger does not make use of a 3D virtual space to communicate with your friends and contacts. It's your seemingly traditional online chat/communication facility with advanced features and functionality. The most notable feature of Live Messenger is its integration with Yahoo Messenger, meaning you can chat, share files and photos and communicate with your Yahoo Messenger contacts right within the Live Messenger space. Aside from this, Live Messenger also allows you to do PC-to-PC calling, live video conversation, share folders, and get headlines, sports scores, traffic and more.
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While both Live Messenger and Google Lively are tools for online communications, each of them has their own distinct features and specs which distinguish them from each other. Google Lively is leaning toward the 3D virtual world type of online communication, while Live Messenger is a good example of a cross-platform, social and web 2.0-ish form of communication. Both of these two products/services would have different users. While Google is geared mostly for the young web-savvy generation, Live Messenger will most likely be appreciated by the not so professional online users who are more or less attuned with the traditional social networking sites.
Your choice? It depends on which type of online user you are.
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Google has recently announced that Lively will be shutting down before the year ends as the service is not paying off well for Google. Read Brighthub's coverage about the shutting down of Google Lively by following this link.