In the land of instant messengers, Windows Live Messenger and GTalk are kings. But that does not mean they are the only inhabitants. We used to use these programs because they are the mainstream, so to speak, but we have other alternatives that offer different features and capabilities and today I will present you some of them.
This program universal instant messaging, and is a good alternative to centralize all our email and chat accounts in one place. Pidgin is fast, lightweight, free and has an attractive interface with the various options which we can also find in Windows Live Messenger.
Unfortunately is not available for Mac OS X, but it is for users of Windows, Linux and other UNIX based systems. With Pidgin you can also perform a variety of tasks such as file transfer, automated messages, emoticons, notifications, and many other things. Moreover, the real value of Pidgin lies in support for variety of important plugins which we can use to customize our user experience.
This is another very popular free client that wins our hearts by its retro aesthetics and simplicity. With Trillian we can not do many things, but we can do something that we care most: chat. This instant messaging is available for Windows and Mac, and also has applications for Android, iOS, and Blackberry, and even has a web version to chat without having to download anything.
With Trillian we can perform updates on our major social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but what really is interesting is the ability to synchronize the same platform across different devices : we can start a conversation in the desktop application and resume the same conversation few minutes later through the mobile application. Trillian is also lightweight and does not consume many system resources.
Digsby is a full-featured client that not only lets us chat with our contacts, but is also a client for email and the vast majority of social networks on the web. With Digsby we can have all our Messenger, GTalk and Facebook contacts in one place. However I must admit that the interface is not the most beautiful part of this program but it has a good notification system.
The organization is divided into tabbed chats, in the same way that you can find in Windows Live Messenger, and email notifications can be seen on the desktop. You can also set multiple accounts with different notifications so we know what to prioritize. Finally, synchronization with social networks makes Digsby to supports Facebook Chat, a feature that is essential for many.
Talk.to is pretty young instant messaging client and its main advantage is its simplicity, with a very clean and easy to use interface, and also with the ability to download other versions for mobile operating systems. Unlike many other clients, Talk.to does not offer difficulties to create group conversations.
Another feature that makes Talk.to different from others is ability to split our contacts among those who have been contact every day and those we don’t in order to have easier access. There is also an ability to search not only among our contacts-a but also between the conversations we’ve had. It is an ideal choice for those using GTalk from multiple accounts.
We close our list with one of the most minimalist IM available, Miranda. This is a multi-protocol client for Windows, whose charm lies in the speed with its ability to not use many of our computer resources. But its main value is portability: no installation required, and can be moved on a USB drive or other storage disk. Like Pidgin, you can make customization trough more then 350 plugins. Miranda is completely free and also has support for Facebook Chat.