Of IMs and usability

My choices in IM clients were dictated more by the inceasing number of contacts who started using different services. Took the plunge with Mirabilis ICQ in 1997 – some months before the takeover by AOL. Also used Yahoo Messenger for a while until the start of the millenium when most of my contacts were MSN Messenger users. Naturally, I couldn’t just get rid of the other clients, because most of them were exhibiting the kind of brand loyalty that a marketing man gets wet dreams about, so I turned to multi-protocol clients.

Trillian was the first and it was good while it was free. It did all that was expected of it and connected to all 3 protocols at once without the overhead of the pretty and overly fancy individual clients. I was later introduced to GAIM and always being one to fly the OpenSource banner, I decided to try it out for a few weeks (of course – the fact that I was playing around with Knoppix and other *nix flavours at the time also pushed me to use the same client on my Windows partition too).

I am now a huge fan of the Open Source Miranda IM. Unbelievably large collection of plugins allows the user to customize it to a very large extent. There’s also support for so many different protocols, some of which I haven’t even heard of .

But then comes Google Talk with its simplistic interface and it’s innate ability to conduct voice chats all embedded in a client smaller than some images that I’ve seen. I was hooked.

Now it’s a combination – for most times I use Miranda for communicating with all 4 protocols (ICQ / Yahoo / MSN / Google Talk). For vox chats – I switch to Google Talk.

I’m now championing the cause of IPB Image, a web based multi-protocol messenger service that functions within a browser window, has full support for Firefox and also keeps logs of the chats you’ve had so it’s easy to dig up references to any topic you might have discussed with your friends earlier. It’s being continuously developed and new features are being added regularly.

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