Microsoft is launching a couple of new webcams, aimed at increasing the use of video features in Windows Live Messenger.
The Lifecam VX-3000 has a 1.3 megapixel camera, and costs $49.95. The VX-6000 has a 5 megapixel cam and costs $99.95. The cameras include noise cancelling microphones, and the software handles 'novelty' effects. Buttons on the cameras can instantly bring up your MSN buddy list to get you vid-chatting as soon as humanly possible.
The company is clearly taking a leaf out of Apple's book. Its iSight camera proved to be a great seller, and drove adoption of iChat, the company's own instant messaging client. With many webcams featuring limited functionality and driver support (and, we suspect, about to die come Vista-day) MS is keen to make sure that its users get the best service possible - and, of course, to encourage them to video-blog their lives on MSN's Spaces page.
Microsoft is keen to integrate instant messaging and communication between Windows, MSN and Xbox Live. It has already released a video camera for the Xbox 360.
Let us know what you think of the cams (which you can see at the Microsoft hardware page
) over in the forums.