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Instant messaging (IM) programs allow for communication over the internet. Many IM programs have built in webcam and audio features that allow for a personal "face to face" conversation.

MSN Messenger is Microsoft's instant messaging client for Windows computers aimed toward the home user. With MSN Messenger you can chat online via text, voice, or video, in real time with your friends, family or colleagues. Instant conversations are just the beginning, you can also send files and photos, play games, let your friends see what you're listening to, and personalize your display picture, pick your own background, and more.

The major use of the software is for instant messaging. Instant messaging typically boosts communication and allows easy collaboration. In contrast to e-mails or phone, the parties know whether the peer is available. The user is allowed to set an online status or away message so peers get notified whenever the user is available, busy, or away from the computer. On the other hand, people are not forced to reply immediately to incoming messages. This way, communication via instant messaging can be less intrusive than communication via phone.

MSN Messenger allows messages to be enlivened with graphical emoticons, sometimes called smileys, flash animations called winks, animated display pictures, and styled text.