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Hacking Google Talk to Work with AIM, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger

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Google Talk is Google's instant messaging client — but, by default, it doesn't connect to other instant messaging networks. In this article, Google expert Michael Miller shows you how to hack Google Talk to message with users of AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and other IM networks.

Google Talk is the name of both Google’s instant messaging network and its IM client. As with competing IM systems, Google Talk lets you send and receive both text-based instant messages and voice-over-IP Internet phone calls. You can download the Google Talk client and learn more about the Google Talk network at talk.google.com.

Unfortunately, Google Talk doesn’t connect with other instant messaging networks, such as AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger; with Google Talk, you’re pretty much limited to IM’ing with other Google Talk users.

Unless, that is, you know the trick.

How the Hack Works

Google Talk is built on the Jabber protocol, which allows for interoperability between compatible IM services. And if you hack Google Talk to connect to a Jabber server, you can then connect Google Talk to the AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger networks.

What you have to do is connect Google Talk to a Jabber server, and from there use a specialized transport to connect to your IM network of choice. Essentially, the connection goes from Google Talk, through the Jabber server, through a transport for the selected IM network, and then to that that IM network. When it works, it’s relatively seamless; you can talk to friends from virtually any IM network through the Google Talk client.

Of course, to connect to another IM network in this manner, you must already be a subscriber to that network. During the connection process, you’ll be prompted to enter your username and password for any IM service you try to connect to. You’ll also need to have Google Talk installed and running on your system, and have a valid Gmail address (which you need to use Google Talk in the first place).

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