Instant Messenger Clients

If you have been using the Internet for any amount of time you have probably used an instant messenger at some time or another. They allow you to talk to your friends, family and co-workers with the click of a button. There are many great clients out there, as well as many different networks.

(Windows) ICQ -

One of the oldest networks is ICQ, with millions of users world wide. Their software has come along way, with many hurdles being overcome. One of the biggest advancements in my opinion is the addition of a roaming profile, letting you travel from computer to computer keeping your user list intact. If this had been supported from the start I would have probably not started using additional IM clients.

One of the major failing points I've found with ICQ is the fact that their software is often full of 'extra' stuff that I don't want. They have quite a bit of advertising and unfortunately it became a playground for spammers, often for adult websites which for children using the software is a major problem. More recent versions of ICQ have Spam blockers built in, but the occasional piece still manages to make it through.

(Windows) MSN Messenger -

The MSN Messenger client is very easy to use, as is the case with most Microsoft software. Roaming profiles was a huge selling point with me when it was first introduced, and the use of smiley emotion icons. It has many features built in for transferring files and having live conversations using your speakers and microphone. The remote desktop features and sharing your pictures gives it a nice personal feel. This program is very easy to use and those who are very new to computers or the Internet will probably feel at ease using this software. With almost no learning curve the average person can be on and chatting with their friends and family within minutes. The one problem I have with MSN Messenger is the inability to send a message to an off-line friend and have them receive it when they come back on-line.

(Linux) GAIM -

This is probably my favourite Linux client! Not only does it work with all the major chat networks such as ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, you can also go on IRC with it! There are many additional features for this program including auto-reconnecting and security features. Some such security features are hiding your operating system and a very easy to use block list. This software currently is include in such Linux distributions as Red Hat Fedora, and Mandrake.

(Linux) Kopete -

Another really great Linux based messenger client! It includes the same network support as GAIM, but takes user friendliness to a whole new level. It's really nice looking with sharp graphics and lots of interesting plug-ins. Some of the older versions were not quite as good but it's really coming in to it's own with newer versions! This application has been bundled with the SuSE Linux distribution, however it is compatible with all versions of Linux. If you are interested in a really fancy looking messenger you should definitely consider trying this one out. The only down side is if you aren't using SuSE you may have to build the source yourself.

Instant Messengers are a great tool for keeping in touch with co-workers, children away at school, and friends abroad. If you have the time and want to save some money on phone bills, check out these applications and have some fun!

Ken Dennis

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