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 you’re at work, a friends house, or a kiosk – under most circumstances if you have access to a Web Browser, you can log in 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 even surpass what Microsoft offers 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 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 I 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 isn’t perfect, but it does work if you’re 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 is 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 downside…it does require FLASH 8 or later to function. Unfortunately, not all systems, servers, or 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, nearly ALL systems these days have Flash but…
Google Talk for the iPhone truly is fantastic. 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 is so good that it almost feels like a built-in App. Can’t say enough good things about this. Microsoft and Yahoo! have a long way to go to catch up here. Unfortunately, the Google story falls apart 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. It requires that Flash 9.0 or later be installed to use it. (This is why I’ve listed it last in this article.) Once I logged in, the Client was 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 Microsoft service, the Yahoo! IM service is close to worthless. Personally, I wouldn’t bother.
Pretty GROOVY stuff if you ask me. For me, 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 info & conversations. HUGE security risk if you ask me.
Thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Which service is your favorite? Did I miss your favorite?