Windows Me, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 98
No additional requirements
Publisher's description of Pidgin
Pidgin (formerly known as Gaim) is a multi-protocol instant messaging client for BSD and Windows. It is compatible with AIM (Oscar and TOC protocols), ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, and Zephyr networks. Pidgin users can log in to multiple accounts on multiple IM networks simultaneously. This means that you can be chatting with friends on AOL Instant Messenger, talking to a friend on Yahoo Messenger, and sitting in an IRC channel all at the same time. It also goes beyond that and provides many unique features. A few popular features are Buddy Pounces, which give the ability to notify you, send a message, play a sound, or run a program when a specific buddy goes away, signs online, or returns from idle; and plugins, consisting of text replacement, a buddy ticker, extended message notification, and iconify on away.
Your mother uses AOL Instant Messenger. Your spouse prefers MSN. Your office insists on Yahoo. What are you going to do? You could run all those chat clients at once, or you could use Gaim, now renamed Pidgin. Like Trillian, Fire, and other third-party IM clients, this open-source messaging application lets you access multiple IM networks from one window, including Google Talk and MySpaceIM as well as lesser-known protocols such as Jabber and Gadu-Gadu.
Pidgin's biggest change is the redesigned interface. The Buddy List can be viewed in Basic or Advanced mode, and the most important features, including the Plug-in List, have been graduated from the Preferences window into their own panes. Twenty-two plug-ins come prepackaged as Pidgin repositions itself as a highly extensible chat client.
The IM features are unimpeachable: smileys (you can find tons of emoticons on the developer's site), file transfers, and multiperson chats. The Buddy Pounce feature lets you automatically perform certain actions (play a sound, execute a command, open an IM window) when a contact signs on or off. Pidgin also gets lots of intangibles right: logging and time-stamping, for instance, are well-executed and easy to access. However, it lacks IP telephony and video conferencing, and there are still some bugs--most notably in the Help menu. Still, Pidgin remains a highly recommended text-only messaging app.
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