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Beyond AIM: Top Instant Messaging Clients For Business

Instant messaging has all but replaced the phone as an office tool. We take AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger for a spin and give you the lowdown.

When it comes to communicating in the enterprise, desktop IM clients are a great way to go about business. Gone are the days of walking back and forth between offices and desks. Business users are starting to realize that while e-mail is incredibly useful when asking clients questions, it's woefully inept when information is required instantly, or informally among colleagues.

AOL's AIM offers lots of features that just don't fit in a business environment.
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And that's where instant messaging comes in. Services like Microsoft's MSN Web Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), and others provide users with an outstanding way to communicate quickly and efficiently without all the lag time that's experienced when communicating via e-mail.

That's why we've decided to take a look at six prominent desktop IM clients to determine what kind of benefits they offer and find out which is the best for businesses and their clients and suppliers who want to have instant communication.

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM)

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is the most popular instant messaging platform in the United States, but it's also one of the least useful to businesses. Unfortunately, while the client seems ideally suited for consumers, it lacks much of the appeal a business user would expect.

Overall, AIM is designed well (we looked at version 6.8). It features an easy to use buddy list and adding friends to that list is as simple as inputting their names into an "add" feature or messaging them and clicking an "Add Buddy to Buddy List" button.

That said, the absence of practical business features AIM provides is disappointing. Sure, it allows you to engage in video chatting, and you can communicate with co-workers/friends/clients (buddies!) via mobile phone thanks to its text messaging integration, but the program's focus is on personalization and making it more about you than any real business functionality. It wasn't designed to be a business tool and it shows.

Do employees really need another piece of software to tempt them with games and music when they should be working?

AIM is a fine service for people who want to chat, but don't care about business-friendly features like encryption and additional security layers that ensure the chat isn't being read by a third party. And although it's simple to use and chatting with friends is easy, AIMis for play, not for work.

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