New poll: Which is your favorite IM service?

by Volker Weber

I am wondering about your favorite IM service. Lots and lots of people use the walled gardens of public IM networks from AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo. Then there is the open standard alternative Jabber, also used by Google Talk. Corporate types prefer their own service like Lotus Sametime or Microsoft LCS. My own personal favorite is Skype, just because it works. Everywhere and every time.

I don't want to turn this into a beauty contest between IM clients and also not between IBM and MS. This is why the choices are rather sparse. I'd rather want to know what you are relying on day by day.

These are the results:



I just cannot answer that. I use all four - ICQ, GTalk, Sametime and Skype. And all four have their advantages and disadvantages. Let's make it via exlucsion: I only use ICQ because most of my contacts use it, it's kind of a legacy from other times. Skype ist the best way to work with VoIP and Picture for me. GTalk is my personal favourite, but there are not many contacts using it. At work I use Sametime of course and I like it very much, but it's a business network and not a personal one. Ok, let's choose GTalk.

Martin Hiegl, 2007-02-04

One very useful feature I like in Yahoo is, that it stores messages sent during absence. They can be retrieved at a later time, whenever the next logon takes place. I am restricting myself to OS X clients, and use fire (as it saves all conversations for later reference).

The beta Yahoo offers gives me a minute font-type with ending every message. So I use it only if I want to share video (very, very seldom).

Since I use a VoIP/SIP service, Skype has experienced little attention.

Armin Roth, 2007-02-04

Well, I chose Skype because that's what I *prefer*. However, a lot of my IM goes out via ICQ/AOL too because a lot of my customers are using those exclusively. So I believe the current poll feature isn't flexible enough to really allow for answering the question in a way that reflects real usage.

Stefan Rubner, 2007-02-04

Oops, the sentence I wrote is hardly understandable, as it includes a html-like statement that Volker does not approve here. So it should read: it gives me a minute font-type with a "html-statement" (regarding the font) ending every message.

Sorry for the hiccup.

Armin Roth, 2007-02-04

Volker, Is there a reason for not listing IRC explicitly?

Matthias Leisi, 2007-02-04

IRC is its own category, I believe. There is a reason I am listing the "None of these" choice.

Volker Weber, 2007-02-04


IM has overtaken e-mail in my book. Hands down it counters the issue of latency. There cannot be one favorite IM service, because around the world there are so many countries and cultures gravitatng to one or another. Here are some examples:

Macintosh Culture: given the inclusion of iChat as an integral component of the Mac OS X system, almost all users can be found and connected with on AIM. This is not to say that they do not use others services, but it is a fair bet. Most of my close friends who use Macs also have AdiumX installed, which allows them to connect with AIM, GTALK, ICQ, JABBER, MSN, YAHOO, among others.

PC Culture: although one IM service has been ingrained in the minds of users, Trillian, the Windows equivalent of AdiumX, makes it possible to do the above as well. And then if you are running some flavor of Unix along with X-Windows there is always the open source GAIM project.

In Asia, I find myself connecting to people via Yahoo's service, and in South America Microsoft's MSN has taken up a strong position. Within Europe I find myself split between AIM and MSN of the services mentioned above. Contacts of mine in South Africa, invariably pop up on Yahoo.

SKYPE is the wild card. At first glance most if not all use SKYPE for making phone calls, but with its chat feature, it is fast becoming this global IM service, because it is truly platform agnostic, and if users have it all ready installed to make calls, why not use it to chat.

IRC is the grandfather of all IM services The 'privmsg' feature of IRC which allows for the exchange of private messages has its appeal. It is global, there are networks everywhere, and it works really well in a collaborative environment. There are many graphical front-ends to IRC. One of the best I have found for the Macintosh is Colloquy, but then again I prefer to go the command line route and use a script which I can easily modify to allow for specialty commands directly from the keyboard.

I cannot make the decision on which is the best or my favorite. My contacts make those decisions for me :)

David Blumenstein, 2007-02-04

mmm... Why is 'All of the above' not an option?

I use all of them, except for google talk/jabber.
SameTime is strictly used for business communications, the others are used for both for business and personal chats.

Vince Schuurman, 2007-02-04

No-one has mentioned Meebo. This is an on-line service so no install is required. It supports AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk and MSN so if you have registered for all those services, then you can access them all via Meebo with one login.

Meemo also allows you to add a chat widget onto your own site allowing anyone browsing your site to chat to you directly (and if you are off-line to send an offline message).

Meebo uses the GAIM open source software.


Robin Wills, 2007-02-04

I've got accounts on them all, but have switched off everything bar Skype. Why ?

Myself and the other developers at HADSL have had a skype IM chat between the three of us open for more than a year. It really brings us together in terms of working - even though we're 500 miles apart.

Most other people I need to chat to are on Skype too - and so I've switched off Trillian (with my MSN/AOL/Yahoo/Google accounts).

Its the persistent (and multi-person) chat IM history. If I want to see how I've abused someone before, I can just scroll up. From any machine. Its lightweight, its boring in that it just works.

It just works through firewalls. Sweet.

Oh. And since its not ran by Google/MS/Yahoo, there's less chance of some underpaid third-world low-paid technical assistant being paid a grand and our chats becoming public.

Cant beat it.

Why not sametime ? Well, Sametime is cool, but it seems way too much hard work to host a sametime server and keep it running 24x7 just for us..

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2007-02-04

I use most of everything listed with a touch of IRC on the side. The only one I don't use at all these days is Sametime. Each messaging network seems to fill a different niche for me - work contacts on AIM, friends on MSN/ICQ, so on and so on. It's handy when you want to occasionally disconnect from only certain parts of your life ;)

Ross Hawkins, 2007-02-05

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