ICQ 5 Released With VOIP Messaging

After a brief stint in testing, ICQ 5 has left beta. America Online subsidiary ICQ has packed the instant messaging software's latest release with added communication features including a walkie-talkie function dubbed Push2Talk and improved video messaging.

Push2Talk utilizes voice over IP technology that enables buddies to speak to one another via the Web as they would with a two-way radio. Once invoked, Push2Talk's paging dialog remains open on the desktop even while the client itself is minimized.

ICQ 5 also sports new customization options and core improvements that enable dual screen support, full screen games support, and an option to change a classic ICQ behavior by using the Enter key to send messages.

These additions are aimed squarely at Yahoo, sources say. According to AOL, "ICQ is much more focused on competing with Yahoo," than other competitors - especially in the international market where it remains as a strong contender with sizeable market share. ICQ is especially interested in targeting youth audiences by providing a "cool design" with "lots of bells and whistles."

Version 5.0 is built with ICQ's open source Xtras platform architecture, which slims down the client by transforming superfluous features that range beyond core functions into Web services.

ICQ 5 is available for download via FileForum.

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