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Do I need all these instant messaging programs?

MSN messenger, Yahoo messenger, AOL messenger, Windows messenger and so on
… I’m confused. Do I have to have all these installed in my computer to be
able to IM everybody? I can’t IM somebody with AOL or Yahoo messengers if I
have a Windows messenger?

Do you have to have them all? It depends on who you want to talk to.

Can you IM someone who’s using AOL Instant Messenger using MSN Messenger?
No. Yahoo Messenger? Maybe.

You’re probably more confused at this point. Let me try to explain.

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The short answer is that for the most part, the major instant messaging
services can not talk to each other. That means:

  • You must use MSN Instant Messenger to IM with your friends who use MSN
    Instant Messenger

  • You must use AOL Instant Messenger to IM with your friends who use AOL
    Instant Messenger

  • You must use Yahoo Instant Messenger to IM with your friends who use Yahoo
    Instant Messenger

Now, there are exceptions.

First you should be aware that MSN Instant Messenger, Windows Instant
Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger are really all the same instant messaging
service. They’re simply different programs that all communicate on the same
instant messaging network. So those programs can all be used with each
other.

“…for the most part, the major instant messaging
services can not talk to each other.”

The other exception is that last year Microsoft and Yahoo cut a deal that
makes it possible for their two systems to interoperate, if you use the
appropriate client program. That means if you set things up correctly, you can
IM to a Yahoo Instant Messenger friends using MSN Instant Messenger.

But right now, that’s about as good as it gets.

Even though you need to use the matching service to IM your friends
on that service, you can use a single program to do it. Programs such
as Trillian and Gaim allow you
to install a single program to communicate using all the major IM services. You
still talk to AIM users using AOL’s service, and MSN users using Microsoft’s,
but you don’t have to install and run a second (or third, or fourth) program to
do it.

Caveat: Programs like Trillian and Gaim may be considered illegal, or a violation of the IM services
terms of service. The argument is that the IM protocols are not
actually made public, and using these programs bypasses the advertising that is
displayed in the services native clients – thus denying them of the revenue
they’re entitled to for providing their services for free. You’ll need to make
you own decision on whether to use these types of clients.

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4 comments on “Do I need all these instant messaging programs?”

  1. I recently had a conversation with a person who was using AOL (and I was using Windows Live). Didn’t think it was possible either. 🙂

    Reply
  2. I use trillian. It’s very lightweight and it doesn’t have all the ads and junk that come with AIM. The pro version costs $$$, yeah, but the average user will never use the features that come with it. I definitely recommend checking out trillian.

    Reply
  3. It is such a relief to be able to access such a clear thinking level of expertise.
    Thankyou I look forward to learning a lot.

    Reply

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