Friday, October 26, 2007

Best Free Instant Messaging Client

If you're like me, then you probably have friends and family using a variety of IM networks. One way to talk with people on each one of these networks is to open an account for each and then download and install each IM client on your computer. However, running four different IM applications on your computer uses a lot of system resources, is difficult to manage, and broadens your attack surface.

Therefore, I would recommend using a multi-protocol IM client. These applications not only allow you to connect to multiple IM networks, but they are also advertisement free, more secure, and have features that allow you to easily manage your various IM accounts.

For many Gaim would be the first choice. It supports AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, and Zephyr IM networks and is available for multiple platform as as well. It's a solid choice but it's not by cup of tea. I've found it resource heavy and the interface confusing though I must admit the customizability though Guifications is an attractive feature. Trillian Basic is easier to use than Gaim, is less resource greedy and easier on the eye as well . It supports the AIM, ICQ, IRC, MSN, and Yahoo networks. Now, if you're a power user and want support for more networks and the ability to add features via plug-ins, then definitely check out Miranda Instant Messenger.

In addition to the networks supported by Trillian, it has native support for Gadu-Gadu and Jabber (it also will connect to the Google Talk network with a little plug-in tweaking). Its interface is minimalist, but the application is very extensible through the use of plug-ins. Miranda IM is now my IM client of choice

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