Zest of QQ International

14:51, November 24, 2009      

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Website of QQ International. (Photo: GlobalTimes.cn)

Do you enjoy chatting up strangers? Or do you prefer to keep things more formal, within the safe and cozy walls of an office environment?

Although you are probably already familiar with the annoying noises of MSN messenger, China has found an alternative that is set to take over the world any day now. You may already know it as QQ.

Comparing QQ and MSN is like comparing a kung fu suit and a smart tuxedo. One is impressively entertaining and guaranteed to make friends while the other is much more formal and will deter the commoners from invading your space.

Although China has made MSN an official work tool for many companies thanks to its secure software and simple colleague-to-colleague chat features, QQ has made being accosted by strangers a staple of the software, whose friendly gawping penguin logo glares at you from every Chinese colleague's computer in the office.

According to the QQ website, they have over a billion registered accounts; that's an entire country's worth of people to bother you while you're working. And it's not surprising, with QQ's (constantly over populated) online games, which attract entire families to play, ranging from simple poker to complicated adventure role-playing in "QQ Three Kingdoms." If you feel the need for a life outside of reality, you can even try an online house, pet or partner.

To make sure that people of all nationalities can spend the best years vegetating in an uncomfortable swivel chair, the good people at Tencent software spent seven years putting together the "Hummer," a brand-new software platform that is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac. Just last month, they released the all-new beta of the English language version of QQ to replace a failed Chinglish version from 2002. But will the new software be a hit?

Longterm QQ user and once worker Li Xiaoning believed that the new QQ might bring people together. "What I want to know is whether foreigners will really use it. I'm sure that the locals are always looking for a new way to meet foreign friends. Could QQ be the answer?" he said.

But David Soares, an English teacher from Canada, thought differently. "I know that most of my Chinese friends use QQ and MSN. If there is an international edition, I'm glad to have a try. But to be honest, MSN is intrusive enough."

The new edition aims to get the English-speaking world into the China lifestyle, both at work and at home. To get yourself started, you'll need 100 MB of free hard drive space, and as always in China, foreigners have been given a few extra privileges. These come in the form of group chat, customizable skins, weather updates and a video stream from the Shanghai international channel.

Source: GlobalTimes.cn

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