Eight or nine years ago, I was using a fun little proggie named ICQ. It was fun, showing me when friends were coming online and sending little messages. Quickly though, I started to pretty much hate the whole IM concept, and at the same time all the people I was doing online stuff with were part of the same community, gamers, so I moved onto IRC as my last messaging tool. Or so I thought :)
Lately, I've been in need to keep more or less in touch with two friends who happen to use IM. One is on MSN, the other is on Yahoo. I played a few minutes with Yahoo Messenger and when it became obvious that this kind of bloated over-featured software is exactly what I don't want to use, I thought : "hell, someone smart must have made something that would allow me to connect to MSN and Yahoo with the same tool". A google query later, I found about words like "gaim" or "trillian" I had heard about for years without even wondering what these would be for :)
So here it is : a biased, superficial, unneeded and quick review of Gaim, Trillian, Miranda and Instant-T.
What I needed
I want something that allows me to write, read, send and receive messages. And that's about it. I don't need something that allows me to make up fancy avatars, change my status every time I go to the bathroom, listen to music, watch videos, do the laundry. Well ok, I wouldn't mind a plugin for the laundry.
There are gazillions of multi protocol IM clients, but it seemed to me that the most popular ones for Windows were, in no particular order : Gaim, Miranda, Trillian and Instant-T. Feel free to bitch about your favorite software I'm not mentioning here :)
Duh. I think I might have already found a winner. Ok, what is my spare Windows box for if it's not for useless and redundant sofware installs ?
At first glance from their web, I was not convinced : I usually not really like Windows ports of linux softwares, which always come with their special needs for some awry GTK or Cygwin library.
Gaim was quick to test : it simply refused to stay in my process list for more than 2 seconds. No visible crash, no message, no alarm, just… nothing.
I think their motto must have been something like "let's make a client for 12 protocols… and build every single feature from AIM MSN and Yahoo in it !". Bloated. Yikes.
Actually I almost liked it, but little touches like the skinned interface and the lack of options and control over it made the software last no longer than 5 minutes on my computer. Bye bye.
From the first click I knew I would love it. It's a plain zip, not an installer, it's lightweight, it's compact, it's tiny, it's simple. It's an IM client, nothing less, nothing more. And there are a very lot of options to configure and control it.
Even if I was using only one protocol, say Yahoo, I would recommend using Miranda instead of Y! Messenger. It's so much faster, smoother and cleaner you just can't dislike it if you don't love it.
Miranda pwnz them all.
On a side note, I think I really should try Bitlbee someday. It's an IRC to other protocol gateway, hence allowing you to chat with buddies from IM networks within your regular IRC client. The usage looks a bit tedious to get started, but since I generally have an instance of mIRC running and I really need IM for one or two friends, it could be quite cool.
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