Google has launched voice and video chat in GMail today. The rollout of the feature has started and it is expected to be completed in one or two days. It requires a proprietary plugin which is available for Mac and PC which works on all the major browsers. After installing the plugin, open GMail and just click on the "Video & more" menu at the bottom of your Gmail chat window, and choose "Start video chat." Since they are still in the process of rolling out this feature you may not see this option now.
YouTube has the demo of the feature given by who was part of the team who developed this feature.According to TechCrunch Serge Lachapelle, used to be the VP of product management at Marratech, an e-meeting startupwhich was acquired by Google in 2007.
This is a pretty big feature and expectedly it has gotten wide coverage in the media. Skype, MSN and Yahoo will need to watch out. Since it is piggybacking on GMail it will be able to garner users quite fast. Unlike many other features of GMail which was launched recently (like labs), the feature is being rolled out to google app users also. According to Google they have designed this feature using Internet standards such as XMPP, RTP, and H.264, which means that third-party applications and networks can choose to interoperate with Gmail voice and video chat. Hopefully google will first introduce in feature in their languishing desktop client. The feature is not yet available on linux. But unlike Chrome they are supporting Mac. Maybe because the development team uses OS X. In the demo video it looks like the operating system used was OS X.I would like to see Pidgin and Adium supporting this feature especially since all the protocols are open. The principal developer of Pidgin, Sean Egan is also employed by Google though in the past that has not proved to be of any consequence. Pidgin still does not support the voice chat feature of GTalk desktop client.