Advice on SkyPe versus Messenger

This questions isn't quite as simple as it might first appear. Here's the catch.

I do the IT for a UK based charity which teaches disabled people to use PCs and the Internet. The PCs we are donated range from PIII 500MHz upwards. 80% of the students use modems and the rest Broadband. The operating systems are 98 through to XP SP2. Get the idea to the scope?

To help support users at home we are supplying them with VNC so we can take over their desktops. But we want to also give SkyPe or Messenger for voice communication and maybe in extreme circumastances video (NOT a big requirement).

Our experience so far is that SkyPe is by far the easier to install then MSN/Messenger. And both products give variable results. We've had both work perfectly on broadband-to-broadband connections and also had the voice quality degenerate so badly you think you we're talking to a Dalek.

There is no right or worng answer here but could the Experts give me their views on how we address this issue.

With thanks,

Ed Hasted
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edhastedAsked:
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Reid PalmeiraTelecom EngineerCommented:
both messenger and skype will degrade on voice over dialup. that's pretty much a null between them.

as far as features go, you're better off on messenger for things like chat and file functionality. they've got whiteboarding, etc. This is true of both Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger.

However, if your focus is voice, Skype is a much easier solution, particularly for users who many not be as experience on PC's in general.

It's really a toss up in what you're looking for. I've had both MSN and Y! end up being pretty big resource hogs on different systems, particularly old ones. so if you're primarily concerned with voice, i'd say go with Skype. if you're looking to experiment with different features and functions, either MSN or Yahoo would be a better bet. Keep in mind that if you go with MSN or Y! you're also facing larger support issues because there's a lot more there to tweak (read: break) than with Skype.
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edhastedAuthor Commented:
Unless any other experts have any additional information to add is it Ok for me to close off this thread?

With many thanks,

Ed Hasted
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ECNSSMTCommented:
In terms of what rpalmeira22 saids, its is a toss between the two technology and for either, its going to be how the IT team deals with the worse case scenario.  Otherwise; if one has a clear advantage over the other; you'd see the market favoring one technology over the other.  

I do admit that in my personal dealings with MS in general; there is a debate onto itself about MS.  And if you can see yourself getting above the monopolizing tyrant aspects; their products are not half bad.  (there are other things that can be said, but I'd prefer the semi-positive note).

I think your question to yourself is what kind of support plan can you muster to support the technology of your choice.  What are the minimums that the hardware technology has to be at before being able to use Skype or MS messenger.  What quick fixes (or fixes) can be created for the most common issues.  

Aside from the product; you have to view what staff knows and can be utilized to fix any problems that crop up with the product.  This is the stance that should be taken with all software...

Regards,
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imacgoufCommented:
Skype is definitely better. Quality wise is much better. You can conference with up to 5 persons.
File transfer is much better with Skype as compare to MSN.

Video calls on Skype
One-to-one and group chats
Conference calls with up to 5 people

MSN Live/ Messenger can be process intensive and use a bit of memory and it come with advertisement dashboard and unnecssary tabs.
Sometimes does work well with audio chat behind firewall.
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imacgoufCommented:
Correction: Audio sometimes does not work well behind firewall.
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edhastedAuthor Commented:
Can I thank you all for your feedback.
I have split the points to thank you for the spearate and useful input that you have both given.

With many thanks,

Ed Hasted
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