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Commentary

IM, Therefore I Think

I ranted about AOL's extreme makeover of AIM Express last week and was gratified by the comments and e-mails from people who were quick to fill in my memory lapses with the names of instant messaging alternatives. Trillian and Gaim both have numerous supporters.
I ranted about AOL's extreme makeover of AIM Express last week and was gratified by the comments and e-mails from people who were quick to fill in my memory lapses with the names of instant messaging alternatives. Trillian and Gaim both have numerous supporters. The one I was blocked on was Qnext, which nobody else mentioned, but I really liked it when I reviewed it a couple of years ago.I had run Trillian just for comparison when I did the Qnext review, but it had been awhile, so I loaded it and Gaim and spun them up. I can see why people who do a lot of IM with multiple accounts and identities would like Trillian. It supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC, and a Trillian Pro version lets you configure multiple users, each with multiple accounts. It does video and audio chats and has a new version, called Astra, coming out.

I also can see why people who have only an account or two and don't do a lot of IM would prefer Gaim. It's as simple to set up and use as AOL Instant Messenger used to be (*sigh*). Of the two, I had Gaim installed and running quicker. It also supports multiple services and protocols (AIM/ICQ, Gadu-Gadu, GroupWise, IRC, Jabber, MSN, Napster, SILC, and Yahoo), multiple accounts, and audio chat. In its own way, Gaim is even geekier than Trillian, because it's an open source project and has a strong Linux connection.

Qnext is still around, too, although when I tried to download a current version I found out that the product is getting what looks like a social-computing makeover. The download had been taken down to await the arrival of Qnext 3.0. This new version will continue to support multiple IM services, and audio and video chats. It also will let you consolidate IM and e-mail contacts into a single list and broadcast photos, music, and files to anyone on the list, sending both IMs and e-mails from within the Qnext interface.

Meantime, I gave AIM Today a second chance. It's no less confusing that it was last week, but I suspect the reason I didn't see my buddy list while I was on the road had something to do with the security settings on my laptop -- on my desktop, it appears, but neither IE 7 nor Firefox gives it to me on the portable. Go figure.