Easy and convenient! That’s what I like most about Web Browser based Instant Message (IM) clients from MSN, Google and Yahoo!. It doesn’t matter if your at work, a friends house or a kiosk, under most circumstances if you have access to a Web Browser, you can login to your favorite Instant Messenger Client and chat away!
Although the Microsoft MSN client has been out the longest, Yahoo and Google have both been working hard to catch and and even surpass what Microsoft in this space. Let’s take a look at what I was able to dig up.
As previously mentioned, the MSN Web Messenger service has been around for years. It’s a SOLID client which I actually still use on a daily basis (allows me to IM people while working in the Data Center). I probably started using it back in 2002 or 2003 when quit using ICQ (Sorry AOL).
The MSN service has surprisingly not changed for several years. I’m sure there’s a LIVE version coming soon but at the time I wrote this article, I wasn’t able to find it. Hopefully if they ever DO upgrade it, they will add in compatibility for other browsers. Today the MSN Web Messenger client only support IE and Firefox.
Although it wasn’t very good, Microsoft does have an Instant Messenger client for the iPhone and other Mobile devices like phones. Like I said, it wasn’t very good but it does work if your in a pinch. The Google Talk version is much better.
Google’s Web Based IM client is from the Google Talk family of products. Now granted, by now everyone probably already aware that you can access Web Based IM chat inside GMAIL however, I think it’s important to note you don’t need to be a GMAIL user to get the Web Based IM to work. On a negative side… It does require FLASH 8 or later to function. Unfortunately not all systems, servers, corporate desktops have FLASH and if you don’t have Admin Rights on a box, you might be dead in the water because of this (Airport Kiosk etc…). That being said, pretty much ALL systems these days have Flash but…
Google Talk for the iPhone truly is amazing. It works REALLY well. By far, this was my favorite Mobile/iPhone based IM client between the big 3. The Google Talk for the iPhone almost feels like a built-in App it’s so good. Cant say enough good things about this. Microsoft and Yahoo! have a long ways to go in order to catch up here. Unfortunately, where the Google story falls apart is for all Mobile Phones OTHER than the iPhone. Searching around (at the time I wrote this article) I could find no Native Mobile IM client. If Google does release something in the future, you will probably find it on the Google Mobile site. I’ll watch it from time to time and update this article if GooG releases something.
I found the Browser Based Yahoo! Messenger today (which is actually what motivated me to write this article / review) and surprisingly… tried out the Yahoo! Messenger service for the first time. Although the service requires that Flash 9.0 or later be installed in order to use it (This is why I’ve listed it last in this article) once I logged in the Client was actually very smooth and functional.
Had the Flash 9 install not been a requirement, I might have rated it first. Unfortunately because of the Flash requirement, my iPhone can’t use it.
Tip: Just type web.im into your browser to launch the Yahoo! IM Browser Client
Although easier to find than the Microsoft Live IM for Mobile, like the the Microsoft service the Yahoo! IM service is close to worthless. Personally I wouldn’t bother.
Pretty GROOVY stuff if you ask me. For me personally, I like the MSN Web Messenger and the GMAIL-Talk for my iPhone…
But MrGroove, why not just use the countless Browser based proxy services for these Instant Message Services?
I know several of you are probably wondering this so let’s just get it out of the way. Personally, I’m a very conservative Geek when it comes to Privacy and Information Security. I “barely” trust Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! enough to use these services in the first place. The last thing I want is some startup out of Jamaica or some other 3rd world country farming / archiving / selling my personal & conversations. HUGE security risk if you ask me.
Thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Which service is your favorite? Did I miss your favorite?