Goodbye MSN Messenger, hello Jabber

Like most people, I use Instant Messenging (IM). I have accounts on all the main providers (MSN, Yahoo IM, AIM, ICQ and Jabber) but the one most of my friends use is MSN. It seems that MSN is the most popular IM service over here in the UK, but AIM is more popular in the US.

Anyway, if it wasn’t for the fact that most of my friends are using MSN, I’d ditch it (along with the other proprietary protocols) and move exclusively to using Jabber, as its a nice, open, documented protocol with a wide range of available clients. By design, it’s decentralised – there’s no one “central” server which controls the network, unlike MSN etc.

My friend Steve recently decided to drop MSN, and another friend, Tony, is starting to use Jabber too. Along with another friend James, who started to use Jabber quite a while ago, I think we have the start of a revolution :)

Now I don’t think I’ll fully drop MSN just yet as I don’t want to turn my back on the friends who still use it, but I do want to highlight just how easy it is to get using Jabber and the wide range of superb I’m clients you can use.

Jabber allows you to use gateways to access the old proprietary services like MSN, or alternatively you can just set up multiple accounts in a client like Gaim, Kopete, Trillian or any of hundreds of others.

Probably the easiest way to start using Jabber is to get a Gmail account (if you still haven’t got one), head on over to Google Talk and grab the Google Talk client, and start chatting!

The Google Talk client is a nice, easy to use, advert-free interface:

Google Talk screenshot

It also allows you to make voice calls over the net, saving money on phone bills :)

However, if you prefer a different client, or are using a different operating system that Google’s client doesn’t run on, no worries – Google make it easy to connect with alternative clients. You can even get a a client for the Blackberry mobile device, making it easy to IM on the move.

If you would prefer, its not too hard to set up your own Jabber server, allowing you to use your own domain name for your Jabber ID (like email addresses, Jabber IDs are in the form user@host). There’s plenty of information available at

Hopefully this post will help convince at least someone to give Jabber a try, and move away from MSN and the other “closed” networks. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried Jabber, and what you thought of it!

One thought on “Goodbye MSN Messenger, hello Jabber”

  1. Any Apple users should note that iChat is also based on Jabber, so they get to play too :)

    I have 5 contacts on Jabber, 4 of them are using Google. I’ve used a few public Jabber servers in the past, but am not just using the one based on my Gmail account as it then integrates with the other Google services I use. Maybe one day I will run my own Jabber server.

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