The much-awaited chat feature for Facebook is here in its "pre-beta" form. We're not sure if you, you, and you can access it yet.
While many of you were chatting away on your favorite Gmail integrated Gtalk this weekend, a similar Instant Messaging (IM) service was introduced in its pre-beta form and made available for 'some' people who are addicted to Facebook.
The developers at Facebook have been testing the chat feature for the Web site for sometime now. A couple of weeks ago they had promised a public version of the same to be made available soon.
This pre-beta launch of the IM service on Facebook forms a part of their testing regime; therefore for the moment it is available only for a few networks on the Web site, and not all members. The developers are clever not to disclose the names of these networks, so you don't join the gang and disrupt their peaceful test-drive.
We don't know how much of this is true, but some people from networks like Yale, Stanford, and Harvard claim that they are among the chosen few to have access to this new green-horned feature.
Many of the features of the Facebook IM service (as per news and views floating around the Web) make it comparable to Google's Gtalk. A green dot appears next to a friend who is online and available to chat while a moon appears next to the one currently idle. You can also choose to have a dedicated Facebook chat window to pop out, akin to Gtalk.
However, you cannot prevent a person from chatting with you by blocking them. Furthermore, you cannot view older conversations that you've had with your friends. Also, at the moment, you can only chat with people on a one-to-one basis. Facebook is apparently working on these features to make them available in the future.
A new feature that Facebook confirms to have added is the Mini-Feed stories. This would particularly be useful while using Facebook, as a person would be notified about any new activity on his message-wall through live mini-feeds to keep them updated.
At the moment, Facebook does not support the use of Facebook Chat with third party applications. In addition, it does not support Platform integration with Facebook Chat.
Well, once the Facebook chat feature is done with the observing-and-learning mode, it appears that the social-networking site is planning to offer company to IM services akin to Gtalk, AIM, and Yahoo! You'll probably want to consider requesting your boss to unblock Facebook to try out this new feature.