The New Web Challengers
Universal IM: Inside Instant Messaging
For most messages, e-mail's just dandy. But for those quick, respond-to-me-now back and forths, such as whenever I have to tell my editor I'm going to miss another deadline or I want to ask my wife out to dinner, nothing beats instant messaging.
A slew of free universal IM clients are available for the picking. All work with the major chat services--AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger--which currently freeze out each other (with the exception of AIM and ICQ). At the top of the list is the one I use: Trillian, from Cerulean Studios). Trillian isn't new, but the version you'll be able to download by the time you read this allows messaging and file sharing over local networks without using a server. It also permits you to have both video chat and CD-quality voice chat with people using any of the IM clients listed above. Another hot new universal chat tool is Qnext; click here to get your copy. And if you're an IM fanatic (as I am), log on to BigBlueBall or Instant Messaging Planet for the latest news on everything IM.