So long, AIM. Farewell, Yahoo Instant Messenger. See you in hell, Windows Live Messenger. Though I still love to chat on your networks, I don't love your bloated, intrusive, still-non-cross-platform-after-all-these-years software.
Programs like Pidgin and Trillian solve the cross-platform problem, allowing you to sign into multiple networks under a single software roof. But they're still software, and I'm trying install fewer programs on my PC, not more.
Enter Meebo, a browser-based solution that lets you access 9 different chat networks without installing so much as a plug-in. This free service supports AIM, Facebook, Flixter, Gtalk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Myspace, and Yahoo.
You don't even have to sign up: Just hit the site, enter your username and password for any given network, and presto, you're logged in and ready to chat, with your existing buddy list right there waiting for you.
Of course, by registering for a free Meebo account, you just sign in once to gain access to all your accounts. There's also an optional Firefox plug-in that can automatically sign you in every time you fire up your browser and alert you to new messages, contacts, and so on.
In case you're thinking Meebo can't possibly offer all the same features as a standalone IM client, think again. It supports group chats, video and audio calls, chat logs, file transfers, and even games.
But what I like best about Meebo is that it works anywhere. Wherever there's a Web browser, I can chat with friends and co-workers--no software required. I abandoned chat software for Meebo well over a year ago, and haven't looked back once.