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November 6, 2007

Talk, Google, Talk!

Another day of autumn, another bloated new version of Yahoo Messenger. Very few people remember that Google launched back in 2005 an instant messenger that promised to enhance people's lives. The Windows application with a non-standard interface and the strange installer that didn't give you any option.

Google Talk
's silence gave birth to a Flashy gadget that can be embedded into any web page, even if the only effect is that the page loads slower. The gadget took over Google Talk's homepage and even added some features that weren't available in the stagnant desktop client.

10 months have passed since the last Google Talk release and people expect to see all the features from the bloated Yahoo Messenger in the same simple interface. The promised integration with AIM, Skype and the "traditional phone systems" should also be added.

For the moment, the original Google Talk got back the homepage and has yet to add an entry in the "What's new" page. Despite its acute lack of features, Google Talk is almost perfect because it didn't make too many mistakes.

Probably the biggest mistake was to promise things that couldn't be accomplished in a timely manner.

"Your #1 feature request was file transfer, which we're happy to have launched. Look for updates to the form, and make sure to vote again! 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." (Google Talk Blog - August 21, 2006)

"Just as exciting are our plans to explore interoperability between Google Talk and Skype, making it easier for our users to chat with one another. This is just another step in our commitment to interoperability via open, industry standards." (Google Talk Blog - August 28, 2006)

The second mistake was the lack of communication and that's hard to understand, especially if you consider that Google Talk is a communication app. It's actually "a Google approach to instant communications".


  1. To damn right. TALK GOOGLE!

    Anyway, I've given up on google talk. I still used to use it when I was on windows, but since, I'm just an iChat user :)

  2. I think they have made SOME effort to inter operate with AIM, MSN and Yahoo, but those companies like their walled garden approach and as long as users are willing to put up with it, why should they change.

    Among my contacts I only see a very gradual migration to Google products, but it is happening.

    Like todays update to the IG artwork. Nice, but not substantive.

    Why can't I save from Google Docs into a local PPT file? There are after all Open Source ways to do this. Such a feature would make a few people I know feel safer about storing their presentations in Docs, and maybe even abandoning PPT completely at some point.

    The new kid on the block always has to put up with the established infrastructure for a good long while.

    Is Google holding back for a big release of "The Google OS"?, That is, everything you need to run your business on the web. Or has progress just stalled as the company hires more and more people who are not geniuses at design and coding?

    Time will tell.

  3. Hear Hear!

    I love GTalk's simplicity but it's useless to me until it supports msn and icq transports.

  4. Yeah... something went wrong with google talk. I've been expected for new version so long but only useless gadget was updated, not the desktop client. Talk Google! :) What happened?

  5. sigh!i wish google talk was improved. but keeping the same interface, adding group chat etc., improving the voice quality,adding video support
    ...aim integration would be big for US users .

  6. I'd be more tempted to use the talk gadget, which actually has tabs, now, if it weren't for one thing: It loses half of the characters I type if I type any faster than 30wpm. And that's enough to turn my attitude from happy to pissy in about 30 seconds. If Google Talk client doesn't get an update before Trillian Astra is released, I'm jumping ship. I love Google, but I hate their promptness with feature releases of Google Talk. I feel forgotten.

  7. i already use google talk as my main IM software. in my university course, i've made some people adopt it as well to keep in contact with me :P
    (despite that, i still use WLM appearing as offline, just to know what the rest of the world is doing)

    i want integration with WLM!
    i want group chat!
    i want to be heard!!!

  8. When I saw the title in Reader I almost got giddy. Thought there was some kind of updates about. Wrong, I guess.

    I've been waiting forever for an update. The possibilities that I read of make even more hard to wait.

    I want a Linux client.

    I want group chat.

    I want transports.

    Scratch want, I need.

  9. I wonder when will Google Talk start supporting webcams. I seriously would like to see video chat options being available in GTalk. Am not too concerned about interoperability with other chat clients.

  10. You CAN use transports in Google Talk - you just have to set them up using a more advanced jabber client (:

  11. Yes, you CAN use other transports with Google Talk if you know what you are doing but the open source Pidgin is a MUCH better IM client.

    I had high hopes for gTalk when the Pidgin creator went to work for Google but that was time ago. Noting new for gTalk. The gadget has turned into a bit of something, but I don't want to keep a browser open just for IM. Pidgin uses about 15 MB of RAM and Firefox 100.

    I had used gTalk quite a bit a year ago or so, but the people that I had convinced to come on board gave up because of all that gTalk can't do.

  12. google talk has some amazing features, dont forget that:

    1, keeping the call connection when u have a minor outage (skype for the f sake!)

    2, having gtalk on the web or desk app

    3, stogin online your message history

    4, multiple file + folder sends support

    5, fast file sending (skype? - lol!)

    thats my five top reasons why gtalk is better than others. what a pity its sleeping...

  13. Where have all of the updates gone?

    It used to be that a week didn't go by where there was some neat new feature added to gtalk. Forget about telling them about the features we want. I am sure the GTalk team knows better than we do what is wanted. They are after all the ones that polled their public.

    So what gives Gtalk team! Are we going to have to form a Protest?

  14. I have to agree benjamin I desperately need those thigs:

    - a Linux client.
    - transports.
    - group chat.

    Yes there are transports but their uptime is not such that I can trust, at least to the servers I've tried. If you have to recommend a jabber server with a high uptime msn transport please do.

  15. Re!
    we need a new version fo gtalk

  16. Added security would also be a BIG PLUS!!! It is very disappointing that everything is unencrypted.

  17. I primarily use Google Talk through the Gmail interface. It doesn't matter to me how many times they upgrade the desktop client until they release a Linux version. I'll stick with Pidgin. I would like to see Google host its own Jabber gateways to MSN, AIM, etc. I tried setting them up on my own and never had any success.

  18. Very bizarre how Google let some of their products die, like Gtalk. I will never understand why do they take soooo long to update them.. I don't even have Gmail 2.0 yet and to be honest the updates that will come with it are minimal, why they haven't been implemented to all the accounts? some one else pointed out that their developers might be just busy making goofy videos and pizza.

  19. Actually the Gmail 2.0 Address book is worth the update (to me) as I felt the old one was too hard to use, the new one is a tree structure that makes much more sense.

    I can't tell any difference in speed, but I was pretty happy with the speed anyway, maybe it makes more difference on slower connections.

    I do agree though that updates to Google products seem to have ground to a halt. I hope this means that a massive update of everything is in the works. The alternative possibilities are not so good to consider for Google or its users.

  20. The problem with Gtalk is there's not much to convince people to switch from other network. No video, no Mac client (iChat has those weird multiple contact lists and it can't even do voice, same with Adium), no encryption. It's just TOO simple.

  21. I noticed that feature updates started to take a nose dive once Eric Schmidt stated that he wanted "less new programs and more features" about a year ago. Ironic isn't it.

  22. I'm afraid the whole IM scene is a bit of a mess. My mobile will call or txt ANY other mobile. I can use my email address to send to ANY other email address. I should be able to chat with ANY other IM client from my own without having to worry about protocols. Perhaps this is a bit too far removed from their main mission to "organize the world's information" but if Google can crack the IM thing then I think they will gain a lot of new fans and probably make next years "gphones" even more attractive.

  23. Months later... We're still there! No updates :-(

  24. It would be so cool if group chat could be open so other IM clients, such as Pidgin, could integrate it into their desktop apps. Pidgin is so convenient, but i hate having to always open up the Google Talk gadget to have a group chat with my friends. Thats probably my biggest complaint.

  25. I think google talk is too simple. It needs to add more features if it is going to compete with yahoo messenger. Yahoo messenger is still the leading chat application despite its short comings as it has too many features.

    Still a long long way to go for google talk. I am not sure why google is taking so much time in this fast paced generation

  26. I want google talk on my sidekick 2008 but I can't get it

  27. Google talk should have the option of Webcam.........