Back to Basics - IM applications

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amanda's picture

IM - Instant Messaging.

What is instant messaging?

While researching for my reviews, I came across this "What is instant messaging?" and it said this -

Instant messaging is the ability to exchange messages in real time with other people over the Internet. To send and receive instant messages, you need a connection to the Internet and instant messaging software.

The instant messaging software enables you to set up a list of contacts that also use the program. Once you set up this list, you can see who is online at a particular moment. If the person you want to talk to is online, you can begin a text, voice, or video conversation with them quickly and easily. If they are not online, you can still send a text message that they will receive when they login or leave them a voicemail.

I, personally, only use Windows Live Messenger. But I've been asked to write this article as a review of Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and Skype. So I downloaded them all and signed up. All were easy enough to download I suppose, and it didn't take long at all. But when it came to signing up with Yahoo! Messenger, I had to be an American with an American zip code.. which I of course am not and do not have. Apparently you can go to their web site and sign up a different way, but I was told it's a dodgy way and so I decided not to bother with it. I do have a number of friends who I know use and enjoy Yahoo! Messenger, I don't know how much trouble they had getting an account but I guess the point is - It is do-able!

But for writing this review, in my opinion, downloading them and adding a contact to each of them, doesn't give me enough information about them to write a review. And seeming as well I've gotta write the review today, I don't have the time to use the other IM's over a period of time and get my own opinion on them all. So, I've Googled for other people's opinions and reviews.




Why Skype? - grabbed my attention. A man named Michael Gough has pointed out some good things about

Skype and has done his own fairly short review on it. Here are his points:

  • Skype to Skype calls are free
  • Great quality audio
  • Easy to use
  • It works anywhere you go
  • It is portable
  • It can call regular telephones
  • It is "cool"
  • It works on all popular operating systems
  • the hardware add-ons currently available and soon will be available
  • It works on a PocketPC
  • It can work just like a telephone - with a telephone
  • Non computer users can use it

    Michael Gough went into a little more detail about a few of those points in his article: Skype review

    Also, a girl was moving house and asked for helpful info on Skype as to whether it was cheaper etc, or not worth looking into.
    Read the short question and short answer on this page - Skype Question

    Yahoo! Messenger


    I found a pretty good web page with info on Yahoo! messenger.

    After a quick scan, in my opinion the page is helpful, basic and easy to understand.
    The topics this page covered are:

    I'm sure a lot of people would find that information useful.

    Windows Live Messenger


    My favourite instant messenger. I've been using it since around 1999 and I've never had any real problems with it. It's very basic to use, and about 80% of my contacts use Windows Live Messenger. It is great that although some of my friends use Yahoo! messenger, we can still talk to each other using our own IM's without any struggle or weirdness. So thumbs up to MSN (old name for windows live messenger) and Yahoo for letting us do that.  There probably isn't much difference between Yahoo messenger and Windows Live Messenger. I wouldn't really know, because I've never used Yahoo messenger myself. Some things I really like about Windows Live Messenger though are...

    It's a quick way to check my email. Rather than going to and signing in, I just sign into MSN and there's a mail picture I can click on that just loads my mail up for me. Another thing, if I'm looking for someone's email address, there's a Search box on my MSN where I can type in my friends name, and it takes me straight to that person. Rather than reading through all of my contacts to find them myself, which for me would take a long time as I have many many contacts. Another good thing, you have a sharing folder. Your friends can put files from their computer into your sharing folder, really easily.. fantastic way to share files. There's a photo-swap tool.. where you can really easily swap photos with your friends while you're talking to them online. And, well I guess just the fact that it's usually very reliable. I have memories from years ago where I had trouble signing in sometimes, but of recent years I haven't had any trouble at all signing in.


    In conclusion....

    There are other IM services, such as AIM (but that's more popular in the states, I'm not even sure if you can use that here in Australia).
    Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger are the two most popular services for IM here in Aussie town, so I'd assume that they're probably the best to go with.   Whatever IM service you choose to use, they are a useful thing! Why?...

    I don't like talking to people on the phone, and rather than paying to send a text message from your mobile, its so easy (if you have a good Internet connection) to just sign into your Instant Messenger, and if that person is online, ask them whatever it is you wanted to know! And if it's not urgent, even if they're not online, you can Instant message them anyway and when they come online they'll receive your message!  It's also great for catching up with old friends every now and then. No one really takes the time to call people and catch up that often, but if you've got the spare time and you feel like catching up with someone, Instant Messaging is a great way to chat - and it's free.



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    Matt's picture

    Just thought I'd add that

    Just thought I'd add that Yahoo Messenger allows you to check your Yahoo email as well. I'm not sure why you had trouble signing into Yahoo, after all, they are partnered with Channel 7 in Australia and you can choose a or email address. I have a couple of Yahoo accounts though I rarely use them anymore since Gmail is a far better free service. GoogleTalk, based on the Jabber protocol is a good instant messenger service as well, though not as full featured as WLM or YIM.

    AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) you can use in Australia, I have been using it for around 11 years now.

    I would also like to add that Windows Live Messenger has very poor support for anything except Windows. The OS X client is bad, its like MSN 4 or 5, but rebranded as Windows Live Messenger and there is no Linux/BSD version at all, to my knowledge. Yahoo Messenger, Skype, and AIM have Mac versions and all run on OS X almost exactly the same as on Windows with all the same features and Linux/BSD versions that also run virtually the same as their Windows versions.

    It's probably also worth noting that most of the features you see in Windows Live Messenger/MSN Messenger were in Yahoo Messenger first, and in many cases, they were first by quite a few years and it took a long time for MSN to catch up. I would consider the current feature set of Windows Live Messenger to be comparable to how Yahoo Messenger was about 6 years ago (though MSN has had a nicer GUI since version 6). MSN however had better distribution, among other things, so it took off quite well, despite being an inferior messaging protocol for quite a few years.

    jethro's picture

    hey matt - msn does work on

    hey matt - msn does work on linux - my techie uses it all the time

    Steve Springall's picture

    Yahoo is quite easy to sign

    Yahoo is quite easy to sign up with as an Australian without having to bodgy anything. AIM also is easy to setup for Australians and can be interchanged with .Mac addresses. ie. login to AIM with your .mac address and vise-versa.

    To get the most out of IM is to use a client that links all your IM services together. Adium for Mac and Trillian for PC are just two. With these you can add Windows Live, MSN MEssenger, Yahoo, Jabba, AIM, gTalk, .Mac, MySpaceIM, ICQ and heaps more.

    jethro's picture

    Thanks Steve Yahoo is easy

    Thanks Steve
    Yahoo is easy unless you are trying to sign up for a family account for an under 18 year old! Then yahoo customer service advised me that this product is only available for usa customers. I ended up creating accounts for my kids and lying about their ages.

    Trillian is excellent as a IM client - - however it does not enable the use of some application specific features. Meebo and RadiusIM are two web based clients that are great also -= particularly if your company firewall will not allow msn or icq etc to be installed and connected.

    ffxi gil's picture

    Social IM is a new service

    Social IM is a new service that enables you to chat with your Facebook friends through its desktop IM client. The concept is nice and you might perhaps get to see similar tools for other social networks in the future. To use the Social IM client, you can download the tool from its site. The service is in the early stage and so don’t expect it run smoothly as yet.