Universal IM Clients
One thing I use on a daily basis is instant messaging. This is talking to people directly by typing in chat window boxes. These are services that many people use such as Yahoo Instant Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger. I personally use Yahoo, Windows Live, and Google Talk a lot. But the one thing I don’t like is having several different applications open to talk across these different instant message platforms. Well there are some options out there for universal instant message clients that can run one contact list / interface for all of these platforms. I am going to talk about a few of them below, if you have any others you are familiar with please feel free to post a comment about them.
The first Universal Instant Client I would like to talk about is Trillian. Trillian was the first universal IM client that I used, and I liked it back then. It can talk across Yahoo, AOL, and Windows Live pretty well. The interface is nice, and has the ability to have different skins downloaded if you want to really customize it. However as time went on I found Trillian problematic in staying connected to the IM platorms and found the interface a bit clumsy. The other thing I did not like is Trillian needed third party software, such as Quicktime to run, another downside for me. But it did the job, and for that I was grateful. Trillian has had another version of itself out in Beta test for a couple of years called Trillian Astra. I signed up for testing and downloaded it and it was basically still Trillian. And it disconnected within the first few minutes. The new interface is nice, but again still a but clumsy for me, I like things more simplified and streamlined.
Another Universal IM Client that I use is Pidgin. Pidgin is what used to be GAIM, this one is pretty nice. Its interface is simple, but the amount of IM platforms it can reach is pretty vast. The only one it cannot currently do that I would like to see is Facebook IM. But this is a nice open source application, which means new versions come out all the time, and I think it is only a matter of time before Facebook is also integrated. It has been a solid performer, and is my favorite of all the Universal IM Clients and the one I use on a daily basis.
Another great Universal IM Client to keep up your sleeve and use is Meebo. Now what sets Meebo apart from the rest of the IM clients is that there is no local software to install. Your contacts and instant messages are not bound to one PC as Meebo is entirely web based. That means you can sign into it on any computer and you can have access to instant messaging and your contact list across the multiple platforms of instant messaging. Now some of the downsides to Meebo is that your chat windows are confined to your one browser window or tab. And if you are an old time instant messenger like me, you like to have the little icon down by the clock for your contact list. I don’t use Meebo on a daily basis, but if I am out on a site visit or at my Mom’s on her computer, it is a great way to be able to pull up my instant messaging without a lot of fuss.
Now as some of you read in earlier posts, I have an iPhone and love it. It is almost a laptop, and one of the things that made it almost a laptop is instant messaging. The application I found that works really well is IM+. This is another multi-platform instant messaging client for the iPhone, and other mobile devices. So if you are looking for a nice, universal IM client for your phone or mobile device, I would highly recommend IM+.
So all in all, I have talked about universal IM clients that can do instant messaging across many IM platforms. A lot of people still use the specific IM clients for that platform, such as Yahoo Messenger, of Windows Live Messenger. These have a lot more specific functionality for that IM platform that the above universal IM clients do not have, such as video or file transfers. So if you want more bells and whistles, stick with your specific IM client, but if you are like me and don’t need all the bells and whistles and like it all simple, then go with a universal IM client.