Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Instant Messengers

I recently tried to download ICQ 5. I say tried because it would not let me complete the download. ICQ 5 requires a minimum of 128 MB RAM to run and I only have 64 MB RAM. Now ICQ does still offer ICQ 2003b, but it has always crashed on my computer. Two thoughts occurred to me with regards to this. First, ICQ 5 must be overloaded with unneccesary features to need 128 MB RAM to run. All I require of an instant messenger is reliablity, an ability to send offline messages, a history in which to store past chats, the various statuses (Online, Invisible, Not Available, and so on), and the ability to send files. The first ICQ build I ever used had all of these and only needed 8 MB RAM on which to run. ICQ 5 must then have a lot of things an instant messenger does not even need.

My second thought is that ICQ must be abandoning many Windows 98 and Windows ME users. After all, most Windows 98 and Windows ME users I know only have 64 MB RAM. Those that can use ICQ 2003b probably will continue to do so. As for folks like me, well, I guess I'll continue to use Trillian to access ICQ.

The shame of all this is that I am a long time ICQ user. ICQ came out in 1997 and I started using it in 1998. It was a good way of keeping in touch with friends and family. And for the most part it has proven reliable for me. Over the years I have tried other instant messengers, but I have always come back to ICQ.

One of the instant messengers I have tried is Yahoo Messenger. In fact, I used to use it regulary a few years ago when I was active in a Justice Society of America Yahoo Club. I always liked Yahoo Messenger. It is reliable and has all of the features I want in an instant messenger. And I still know a lot of people who use it. In fact, I think it is second only in popularity to ICQ among my friends.

I never have liked AOL Instant Messenger, also known as AIM. The last time I used it, which was admittedly years ago, it did not even have the ability to send offline messages. I don't even think it had an Invisible Mode. Worse yet, it seemed a bit slow. Curiously, it is supposed to boast more users than any other instant messenger, even though I know of no one who uses it. I have to wonder if the statistics are not a bit over inflated. Consider this, every AOL user and every person who downloads the Netscape browser gets AIM whether they want it or not. Now every person on AOL automatically has an AIM account. It seems possible to me that every one of these people is being counted as an AIM user, even if they never, ever use AIM. It's either that or AIM simply isn't popular with my friends.

I never have used MSN Messenger. My brother did a few years ago and he wasn't really too impressed. His thought it was a good as a very basic instant messenger, but a bit too simplistic. He thought most people would prefer ICQ or Yahoo Messenger.

I guess I should mention Trillian as I have been using it ever since ICQ came out with the last few builds of ICQLite (whose message histories would not save whole chats). Trillian is a bit hard to describe. I suppose the best way to describe it is as a instant messaging client that can log into ICQ, Yahoo, AIM, and MSN (all at once if you want to). It can also log into IRC. Trillian is very stable (I have never had it crash) and it has all the features I want out of an instant messenger.

Anyhow, I am disappointed that ICQ's latest build is so bloated that it requires 128 MB RAM. I can't even see people with a good deal more RAM than that being pleased with an instant messenger that uses that much RAM. I have a feeling that they'll find many people either sticking to ICQ 2003b or using Trillian to access ICQ. I know I for one will be using Trillian..

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