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August 22, 2006

Why Google Talk Will Be the Best Instant Messenger

When all will be said and done, when Google Talk will implement the suggestions from this page, when Gmail will be out of beta, we will see why a program must be developed with the users in mind. After implementing file transfer and voicemail, Google Talk developers say:

"Now, we're off to the next version. I can't tell you what your #2 and 3 suggestions were, but I do know that they're on the way."

While Google Talk is available only for Windows, Google will release versions for Mac and Linux. Microsoft doesn't intend to release Windows Live Messnger for Mac (there's just a limited Microsoft Messenger for Mac), while Yahoo has a very old Yahoo Messenger for Linux.

Open protocol
Google Talk uses an open protocol, XMPP, for instant messaging and Jingle, an extension of XMPP, for VoIP. While Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger are interoperable, the real basis of IM interoperability was put by Google Talk. There are also plans for AIM interoperability. In fact, you can already use GTalk to chat with your friends from other IM networks, but it's pretty complicated.

Simple interface
Unlike other IM clients, Google Talk has a very simple and clean interface. There are no ads, no menus with too many options.

Chat in a browser
While there are services like Meebo, that allow you to use multiple IM networks from your browser, Google has implemented this for Google Talk in Gmail, treating IM conversations the same way as emails. Google also records the chat logs and makes them searchable in Gmail.

Google says: "Google Talk currently does not encrypt chats or calls. But we are working hard to make many improvements to Google Talk while it is in beta, and we plan to fully support encryption of chats and calls before our official release." Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger don't offer encryption.

Google Talk is included in Nokia 770 tablet, and can be used on a BlackBerry (Yahoo Messenger is also available).

File size
You can argue that it has less features, but Google Talk setup has 1.45 MB, Yahoo Messenger has 9.5 MB and Windows Live Messenger has 15.3 MB. This is a good indicator for bloatedness.

I'll conclude with a small description from a review at FileForum:
"Lightweight and simple. I think it's great."


  1. I just wonder why nobody ever talks about GAIM:

    Cross-platform: Linux, BSD, MacOS X, and Windows
    Open protocol: Supports Jabber (and with that GTalk) and closed protocols
    Simple interface: The beta for version 2.0 has 1 button for changing the online status and 4 menu tabs
    Encryption: "Another Gaim encryption plugin (RSA encryption)"
    File size: okay, 6.6MB, but who cares and remember, GAIM supports several protocols, not only one.

  2. I did. I like Gaim, but I don't like the GTK interface. It's not well-suited for Windows. There's no VoIP, audio/video support for any protocol.

    Gaim 2.0 Beta 3.1 has been just released and I'll try it.

    Anyway. Gaim's lead developer works at Google. So Google Talk has a shinier future.

  3. I heard that Google Talk is based on Gaims code... anyway, Gaim is nice and I use it from Linux, but it is only a client. Google Talk is complete service.

    I love Google Talk. I was the first one around to use it and I now have 8 people on the list (All invited by me). I hope it will spread quickly and it will get necessary features like offline sending and AIM (ICQ) interoperability. I am really looking forward to next changes.

    Thank you Google ;-))

  4. I've been more than disapointed with Google talk, and even Google mail. While simple can be good, it's lack of integration with other services, is what I think limits this. Chat is not a new function, but where is the evolution of this in Google talk? Just now getting file transfers is a bit late to the game.

    I'm sure I will be flamed here for this, but integration is what is needed to tie together the cobbled together services. It's an expectation that I can chat with someone else online, but what does Google talk bring to the table as far as innovation? I see alot of "Me Too" and catching up, and claiming that less features are better, but where is the actual usefulness gain to the user? What can I do on Google talk that I can't do on the other networks? What can I do better? I just don't see the draw.

  5. Google Talk is always the best IM.

    The rate of people using Yahoo and Msn messenger is dropping now and Google Talk is increasing day by day.

    Like SpreadFirefox website i think we can start a Spread Google Campaign...

  6. How many of those actually matter to the 14 year olds that power MSN? I can't see them ever switching.

  7. "What can I do better?" Like the author of this blog quoted: "Lightweight and simple. I think it's great." And about interoperability with other IMs, actually I can talk with my contacts that use ICQ, MSN or Yahoo in GTalk and even in Gmail. Its very simple to config this. You just need a Jabber server with transport protocol for the others IM services. Say now: there is even something near to this in the other IMs? And about the "14 year olds that power MSN?" well, I think totally on the contrary! That one´s will power Google.

  8. Yes Google talk is great and easy to use even for dyslxics and strange people of dyslandia.

    Thank you for sharing this new software with me !

  9. Google Talk requires 2 things for me in order to make the full switch from MSN Messenger.

    1) Group Chat.

    2) Client Side Encryption. (like for MSN)

  10. Unfortunatly although I use many of the Google services, I think that Google Talk is one that I won't use. The sole reason is unfortunatly that everyone I know is either on Skype or MSN and so this rather forces my use of those. Many of Google's services have appeal for me in the fact that they allow easy sharing and search (Calendars, Spreadsheets etc), Google Talk does not have any specific appeal in this manner and I don't think I'm alone on this one, the features are fairly limited although granted they are (slowly) growing. Just beacuse Microsoft hasn't released a fresh client for Mac users doesn't mean all the MacOS users are going to flock to Google, it simply means they'll download aMSN or Gaim instead. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of what Google have achieved, I just thing they often roll out services rather prematurely with as someone else said, poor interoperability.

  11. If you want to get more technical, check out the video on how WLM works. I see much more potential for scalability in the WLM product than Google talk. Gtalk is too busy playing catch up, and not innovating.

    it's interesting to hear about the hooks for encryption.

    Features I take for granted in a messenging client:

    - Group support
    - file Transfer
    - extended presence support (Status/custom message)
    - Services integration with a suite

    Like to haves:
    - Extension API for developers to take advantage of (MS's Activity API for example)
    - Extension for 3rd party alerting (think MSN Alerts)

    Google just sandboxes you, while you think it is somehow freeing you with it's simplicity.

    It's about time the MSN/Yahoo interop happened, now I hope it doesn't turn into a AIM/Gtalk vs MSN/Yahoo "standards" match ala Blu-Ray/HDDVD pissing match.

  12. Thats the difference that you dont understand, becouse maybe you dont use Gtalk. They are not playing catch up, because they are innovating. And for a IM with just some months, sandboxes me is a pleasure.

    About the interop you can get that easy in Gtalk with transport protocol, without downloading these bloated IM softwares.

    I understand that you cant face it, but the number of people using Gtalk (and I am counting the people using the system in GMail too) are increasing faster than the other IMs.

  13. See? another reason I need a Blackberry!

  14. well I'm waitting here for a Google Talk client for Mac & Linux. off course I can use my gmail account with ichat in Tiger or with any other jabber client for OS X or Linux but I still have some old macs running Jaguar & Panther and there none of the actual jabber clients for mac do a good job... Also the ability to actually have a voice conversation from OSX to windows/linux users is what I'm waitting for. OK, you may argue that there is skype but this one uses proprietary protocols (and the versions for different OS have different features) and also gizmoproject (this one focusses on VoIP and have a poorly implemented text chat feature). So to make the long story short: bring on the Mac/Linux clients as soon as possible and forget MSN/Yahoo...

  15. I became an instant fan when Gtalk came out exactly because of it's simplicity and lightweight. But although it is still not very bloated now, I'm not sure for how long it will keep that way, because that's not what people want. It was the users that overloaded the msn, yahoo and similar messenger clients. They started off as more or less simple clients too; all the features they were added is what the users demanded from those products. A clear step in that direction was adding features like avatars and "show current music track" (because users asked for these in gtalks suggestions) before essential features such as multi-user group chat (an IM basic feature), contact groups, encryption, clients for platforms other than windows, etc.

  16. Es ligero y fácil de usar pero como coveces a los amigos de pasarse a Gtalk

    Sorry for the spanish :D

    [ Translated:
    It is light and easy to use, but how do you convince your friends to use Gtalk ? ]

  17. You don't have to convince them. Just let them try it.

  18. Well,the most convincing feature is the protocol itself on which gtalk is built..
    Just wait for other jabber clients to implement jingle..and then just watch the gtalk shift in instant messaging.
    According to some blogs about gtalk..its an IM application just for now along with voip..but give google a little time..and it will host services u and i can never dream of..

  19. I'm amongst those who started using Gtalk with no contacts, and i've come to realize the following: most people won't switch because nobody else will. I use my MSN contacts as a checklist to get those i actually talk to and care about, not to use googletalk, but to sign up for a gmail account alongside thier hotmail. I then quickly invite them to use thier inbox to chat with me.
    This feature alone has helped me and my friends stay in touch during a cross-country move using friends, and public access computers.
    I hate it when people use my computer, let-alone install anything.

    I also love the 'off the record' feature.

    I want to thank google in advance for developing thier own operating system; i can't think of a better way to get away from Windows Live, Movie-Maker, and MSIE.

  20. While my GTalk contact list does not outstrip my other IM accounts, it has been growing steadily, thanks to the (sometimes annoying) feature of automatically adding frequent email recipients.

    Once Gaim implements jingle though, I'll probably stick to a single client.

  21. I have GTalk but i dont use is simply because all my friends are on MSN. A few things i'd like with GTalk:
    1) Ability to maximise the status window
    2) Popups for every message
    If i missed an update and it doesn't do those anymore then yay, otherwise meh.

    It'd be awesome if they allowed us to embed a chat box in our web pages (like on GMail).

  22. On my PC Google talk uses 40 MB of memory in idle state (no active conversations). Don't you think it's too much?

  23. I don't really get it.

    I mean, I like Google Talk because I can talk while checking email, and the simple clean interface.

    But I find the lack of features and such very dissapointing. There's no "BIG" innovation to GTalk as far as features is considered.

    I LOVE Gmail, but GTalk is only "okay". Something that's there and I use it now and then.

    But if I had a lot of time and was Im'ming friends and others, I would probably use MSN Messenger.

  24. I like google talk. Its simple and easy to use but the only disadvantage is that most of the people I need to talk to are either in Yahoo messenger or MSN messenger. I have tried and converted some people but not all. For now I am using all. It would be nice if we had Group chat and Video chats also in Google

  25. Any well-designed application that combines XMPP/Jabber for IM and Presence with Jingle for VoIP is a potential killer app.

    Google's GTalk has the potential to be just such an application.

    However Google needs to a couple of things to make it the huge success for which it has the potential:

    1. There needs to be clients for Windows, Mac and Linux. Yes, Google says it plans to produce Mac and Linux versions, but talk is cheap.

    2. Google needs to actively promote GTalk via 3rd party tie-ins. Thus far its marketing of GTalk has been quite moribund.

  26. I Use Skype and Gaim. Most folks I know use skype of voip and it works just fine. Not that Google doesn create some great tech, but sometimes I think there is too much Google bandwagoning (like Firefox bandwagoning) that blinds Google users to the fact that Gtalk is limited versus other offerings. Also The whole minimilist Google thing is good to a point, but in some ways it makes Google apps seem a bit amateur compared to other offerings.

  27. I can't really see everyone changing. Most of my friends use MSN and most people in general in the UK use MSN. In the US there is a much more competitive market with both AIM and Yahoo! having a significant market share. Elsewhere is the world though MSN and Hotmail reign supreme like all other Microsoft software.

    As someone said before, it would be nice if Google intergrated more of their services like Yahoo! does. Google could probably do what Yahoo! does and better without the bloated software. They really need to link up their services and get them out of beta and start competiting otherwise it might be too late.

  28. Google Talk is now integrated with orkut, which is available to everyone. Google Talk doesn't require Gmail anymore.

    Expect more integration and openness.

  29. So, the original article was written more than 3 months ago, Gtalk has been released more than 15 months ago, and yet it has failed to attract more than 2-3% of the im crowd.
    First let's debate some points in the article:
    - Cross-platform; Gtalk does not have native Linux and Mac clients, you still have to use Gaim or iChat. But frankly, nobody uses Linux or Macs anyways.
    - Open protocol; does it really care since not even Google can produce a decent client?
    - Simple interface; you see simplicity but most users see featureless.
    - Chat in a browser; useless and why would anyone open up a browser instead of using a im client?
    Google has a long road ahead to develop a worthy messenger client. It still doesn't have native video support, it's still not skinable, you have to install a Jabber server and use hacks to chat with Yahoo or Live users, no chat backgrounds, no Adress List, no emoticons menu. For the average Joe User, it doesn't have nothing over Yahoo or Live and lacks many features needed to make a switch.
    So i ask you, how can Google Talk become the best messenger?

  30. "why would anyone open up a browser instead of using a im client."

    Because at their job you aren't allowed to install any im clients. With gtalk you can still im people without having to install anything.

  31. I would like to know your thoughts on how GTalk compares with Skype. I was little surprised on not finding the Skype among various IMs in your article.

    I love the web chat archieve and web chat feature of GTalk though.

    I would have loved to have some kind of recording of calls to go with voice calls though.

  32. the best thing about the chat application integrated in Gmail is how you can really surprise people with it! the first time a chat window popped in Gmail I was hooked.

    one of the most important elements of viral marketing is that element of surprise. You don't even know you're using a chat application when it springs up at you containing the chatstream of a friend !

    There's got to be some way to integrate this with Twitter :)

  33. We need innovators like Google. GoogleTalk is the new era. I stopped using all IMs (GAIM) as soon as GoogleTalk came out. I demanded all the people I cared for to switch and now I have 50+ contacts. I only like to talk to people that care and use their brains anyway.

    And Yes video support would be nice, but I am sure it will get there.

  34. Why google wil be the best messenger. Because Yahoo Messenger and Msn Messenger sucks big time.

    They are always the Best I think.

  35. well...

    i started university last september.
    by that time i had no laptop, so all i could use were uni's PCs, and i manage to install gTalk so that i could use it anywere on the campus (and with the pre config i had done months before, i was using gTalk to comunicate with WLM users too) - while my new coleagues were using meeebo and msnwebmessenger.

    some of my friends already had talk, so, since september i always had 2 or 3 people from uni to chat with. :D

    as i manage to be one of the most important persons on my course and since the config i had done with Psi stopped working, most of my coleagues needed to be in touch with me - so they started using gTalk as well :D

    from 2 months now, i started on linux (ubuntu). applications that recreate WLM, well... there are a lot! (i'm using aMsn - appearing offline), but gTalk... just some clients you've all mentioned!
    the built in chat in gMail and the gTalk applet are the only google solutions to this situation...

    can anybody tell me why there isn't a linux version of gTalk???

  36. Did you try Pidgin (previously known as Gaim)? I'm pretty sure we'll see Google Talk for Linux and Mac in the coming months.

  37. I want them to hurry up and get one released on OSX... gtalk is the best and it just isn't as good in ichat.

  38. When will GTalk ever be interopable, or better yet, absorb AIM into its services hopefully when Google buys out AOL? Will GTalk ever have a free radio service with it like YIM and AIM?

  39. What happen to Gush... I See Gush in Google Talk Gadget... will we have any new features for Google Talk Gadget...

  40. I think google talk sucks. Is the only messenger where you can't change your nickname.

  41. Google Talk simply blows. Can't see who's on, can't delete a friggn' contact. Come on...

  42. According to our friends at Google, there's a lot in store for Google Talk. Google is keenly interested in keeping the protocol open, and in fact you can access Google Talk's servers with any Jabber-compatible client like Trillian, Gaim, Adium X, and iChat. (If you have one of these, I'm told you can connect using server and port 5222.) Google tells us that SIP support is coming soon and are in talks with Skype, AOL, and Yahoo! concerning interoperability.

  43. huh...
    GTalk failed... The ultimate judge
    (Time) has rendered its verdict...
    Sept 18, 2008

  44. I think Google talk is still left in the dust...The custom fonts are limited. I really hope beta 5.9+ has custom fonts though.(on AIM, everything I say is highlighted in black, and the text is teal, and in courier new size 10. same thing with yahoo, except I have it fading from teal to black)

  45. all I want to know is when will Google Talk, MSN, and Yahoo all use the same system so that we don't have to have 3 messengers open to talk to all our friends. Oh, include Facebook so that makes 4 now.

  46. Google talk will gain market share

  47. Google talk is good. But it gives pain when I cannot connect to yahoo friends.

  48. gtalk sucks.... very less features... :(

  49. I have just started using gtalk.....and man does it suck....I have people on my list that I have not added....

    1. They have just picked up ppl from the orkut account and added to my gtalk list....which is just horrid....
    2. There is no option for a conference....if there is someone plz let me knw...
    3. You can't sign in as invisible(can do from the gmail account though)
    4. There is no option for buzz or nudge unlike their competitors
    5. No option for sharing a file etc...

    I have no clue why people are there on is just pathetic...

  50. Its 2010 and i would really like to see some changes in google chat.

    Why are you abandoning this app? Please spend some time for this project.

    give some flexibility for developers.
    yes it is simple and clear interface, but not many would like to see the same old interface all life long.

    we are new generation we need something new and fast. i hope you people got it.

    i really cant shift to any other chat service because all my contacts are rooted in gtalk.

  51. What?? You saying msn is complicated? Um. No. I've used msn, google and Yahoo (But I only used Yahoo for about a week) I like Gtalk, but it misses some of the functionality that msn and yahoo have. It really needs something fresh.