Popular instantmessaging service

Currently,AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is the most popular instant-messaging service in use in the United States. Precise numbers are hard to determine, but comScore judged that AIM has 54 million users as of July 2005, giving it a significant market presence. AIM is the big name in the IM world, there is no doubt about that. Although not the first IM service, AIM has the largest number of users with its existing America Online user base and the millions of others who registered just to use its chat client.

AIM gave users the ability to log into any computer across the world that had the AIM client and immediately receive their full contact lists, showing which of their buddies were online at the time. It was the perfect product for the busy traveler and student, who might use hundreds of machines during the course of a year. Chat was effortless, as was the transfer of files from one machine to another.However, over time, a disease crept into AOL Instant Messenger. A disease called creeping featuritis, which often proves fatal.ICQ is known as the first true instant-messaging client, released in late 1996, and has long been known for its outlandish sound effects.

ICQ was designed with a peculiar name, an acoronym for "I Seek You," by a team of Israeli programmers. ICQ itself hosts over 20 million active users from all across the world, as stated by one of AOL's press statements (www.corp. user base is contested, though; since ICQ and AIM share the same protocol, there is a chance that the number is dramatically lower. Some market analysts put the ICQ user base at a meager 1.

8 million. Life for ICQ changed quite a bit, though, in 2000, when it was acquired by America Online. ICQ was left alone to continue to prosper, but its backend protocol design was altered to become compatible with AIM, allowing AIM and ICQ users to communicate with each other. Although ICQ doesn't commandeer the great number of users that other services do, it has an established presence in many foreign markets.

It also touts itself as a medium for online dating and relationships through its complex homepage that attempts to find compatible chat partners.The up and coming challenger in the instant messaging world comes from Microsoft, the behemoth from Redmond,Washington that likes its fingers in all of the pies.Their Microsoft Network (MSN) service was an attempt to dominate the ISP world and compete with AOL, but the only real by-product seems to be MSN Messenger. MSN Messenger ended up being one of the cleanest and produced more efficient IM clients for its time.With the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft is moving forward with its MSN replacement, Windows Live Messenger (WLM),is proving to be quite a capable IM client, with a much cleaner interface than most of its competition.Although it does have a hefty 17 different menu icons for services such as MSN Video, MSN Shopping, MSN Dating, MSN Games, Rhapsody music, and eBay, these are all mostly hidden away from the user.

And just like every other prominent client, it urges you to use its portal system, in this case MSN Today, to catch up on your daily gossip. WLM does capture the second largest user base in the IM community, though, with approximately 23 active million users, as reported by comScore in July 2005.With the arrival of Google,Yahoo! has been fighting for its identity in the online world. Its second-rate search engine was recently updated to match the power of Google's search engine, but a lot of its attention has been placed on Yahoo! Messenger. If you are looking for flash-bang graphical overload, Yahoo! will probably be your client of choice.Ever heard of QQ? You probably haven't, although it is the most popular IM chat client in the world.

It has over 220 million active users on its service; that's more active users than all the other clients discussed here combined! However, its user base is predominantly Asian, with large usage in China, Korea, and Japan, along with significant usage in South Africa. So why do I mention it? Well, 220 million users can't be wrong! However, much of this success is because QQ operates very anonymously, without even requiring an e-mail address for registration. QQ features a very clean and simple interface, with no advertisements and no pushy pop-up windows. There are no additional frill packages, just honest-to-goodness chat.This is what the people want, and they have been waiting for it here in the United States! Their wishes have finally been answered with Google Talk.

Sulamita is a freelance writer who writes on Article Marketing directory, and collaborate on Magazine and video divertenti

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