Consolidating my IM toolset

Last week my ThinkPad died. No, not really died, but it seemed to be very very sick. Maybe all that Workplace stuff was too much for my old machine.

So I decided for a complete new setup. As I cleaned up my old machine I realized that I am using four different Instant Messaging tools. Of course we use Sametime in our company. It is highly integrated into the Lotus Notes environment, and I use it a lot. Second, I used to work with my AOL Instant Messenger accounts with external colleagues or customers.

Since IBM cut off AOL IM support in Sametime, I used Trillian, which integrates a lot of other IM protocols in one client (MSN, ICQ, AOL IM, Yahoo). Trillian is a great tool, and there are lots of plugins available, e.g. for Sametime and for Plazes.

Third, I started using Skype a year ago. Since I use Skype most of my external contacts switched to Skype, too. I do most of my chats now with Skype. It provides everything a IM client should do, integrates best quality VoIP capabilities, and in addition it can handle asynchronous communication. You can leave a message even if your buddy is offline.

Fourth, I am on XP, so there is a MS Messenger running on my machine, too.

Including Lotus Notes with integrated Sametime there are four IM tools with six protocols on my desktop. Instant Messaging overkill. Looking back the last three months, Skype is the most relevant tool for external IM communication and Sametime for internal communication. Some friends including my parents are still on MS. And some folks especially at IBM are still on AOL only. Yahoo, ICQ? Don´t need it anymore. I just kept my accounts for “backward compatibility” to my old contacts.

So what is the conclusion? I decided to disable my Trillian and get rid off AOL, ICQ and Yahoo. IBM reps are now available via Sametime Connect, so there is no need stay with AOL IM. The Plazes plugin was a good idea, but it produced a lot of errors and sometimes Trillian crashed – I will use this Plazes Launcher instead.

So go and get Skype if you want to chat with me.

Update: There is a good overview for IM clients on CNet.

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