Consolidating Your IM Applications with Trillian or Gaim
If you are like me, instant messaging (affectionately known as IM'ing) is a way of life for you, to keep up with your friends and acquaintances.
And if you're like me, your friends have their favorite IM applications—possibly different from yours. Over the years, I've had to add various IM accounts with a smorgasbord of IM apps just to keep up. I currently have ICQ, AOL Instant Messaging (AIM), MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Instant Messenger accounts. Running the individual IM applications to support each IM account can be computer resource–intensive, as well as just plain annoying.
If you're in my situation, you've probably wished there was a way to access your IM accounts via one front-end application. You're in luck: A couple of IM clients can support multiple IM service providers.
Meet Trillian and Gaim
One of these messaging clients is Trillian, created by Cerulean Studios, which touts its IM application as the "Swiss Army Knife of Messaging." The other is Gaim, a SourceForge project backed by a philanthropic band of programmers that even has released the source code of Gaim, in an effort to make a stronger cross-brand IM client.
Both Trillian and Gaim connect directly to messaging services, just like, for example, a Yahoo! Messenger client would connect to the Yahoo! messaging hub. You don't end up relaying through a Trillian or Gaim server.
Both Trillian and Gaim support AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger, and IRC. Gaim also supports a number of other not-so-popular protocols, including Jabber and GroupWise Messenger.
I'm not even going to try to compare Gaim and Trillian here. Both represent powerful multiprotocol IM clients with their own set of offerings. I suggest that you try both and make your own decision about which to go with. (If you are a Linux or MacOS user, your decision to choose Gaim will be much simpler: Trillian is good for only the Windows world.)
At the time of this writing, Trillian is in version 3.1. It is available in both a free version (known as the Basic version) and a $25 Pro incarnation. You can download the free version at http://gaim.sourceforge.net/downloads.php. The Pro version offers some added functionality, including many enhancements in the video-messaging arena. You can learn more about the differences between the freebee version and the commercial offering at http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/compare/.
Gaim is in version 1.3.0 at the time of this article's writing. You can download it at http://gaim.sourceforge.net/downloads.php.