In praise of Google Talk

I’ve taken the piss out of Google Talk a few times on this blog. Well, with the buzz about the new Google Chat idea that integrates IM into Gmail (which is being phased in), I felt like testing out the chat history, which saves your Google Talk conversations in your Gmail account (the one feature that I can use at the moment).

So I had a wee conversation with my brother just to see what the chat history was like. It’s pretty basic, almost exactly the same as the chat window in Google Talk. But that’s all you need. And because for some reason MSN Messenger’s chat history won’t work for me at the moment (serves me right for using beta versions of both MSN Messenger and Internet Explorer I guess), it’s +1 for Google Talk.

And as my test conversation went on I ended up being very impressed with Google Talk. To be fair, I had only ever used it a couple of times, and that was on the day that Google Talk launched. Which is a bit ago now.

Anyway, the upshot of it is that Google Talk simply does the job. It’s a swish, clean and basic interface, that gets across all the information you need in a novel way. I was surprised that they still haven’t got emoticons there yet — I suggested that Google just wanted to be retro about it, and my brother said that he liked Google Talk’s approach to emoticons anyway!

The appeal of Google Talk, I’ve decided, is that it sheds all of the bloat that comes with all the other major IM clients. MSN Messenger is just about the only IM client I use, simply because it’s what all my friends use. But it is filled with stupid features like nudges and winks and goodness knows what else. I really could do without all that. Google Talk goes right back to basics, and gives you what you need: instant messaging, with VOIP on the side.

My brother expressed his disappointment that Google Talk had not become a kind of Jabber-style application that would let you communicate with users of MSN, Yahoo! and AIM. Google Talk hasn’t revolutionised IM in the same way that Gmail revolutionised email — but it’s not Google’s fault that there isn’t a standard, er, standard for IM. This reminds me, though — what happened to MSN and Yahoo! merging their IM systems. I haven’t heard anything about that in ages. I take it this is still happening?

And VOIP! I had never tried this before. It suddenly occurred to me that I could use the microphone that came with my iRiver. My brother informed me that pink sockets mean microphone sockets. Yes.

This in turn spurred me on to finally download Skype. I’ll be honest with you hear: it’s pretty shit when you haven’t got any contacts. And can you believe that ‘doctorvee’ was taken! What a bastard! I have had to invent a variation: doc-vee. Ew.

My status

So the desire to test a pretty basic chat history feature in Gmail when I was bored led to a mini revolution in the way I use IM. Until tomorrow when I revert back to MSN because all my friends are on it. Because that’s the other problem with IM. No matter how good an IM client is, it is difficult to switch over simply because you have to use the one that all your friends are using, otherwise you’ll have nobody to talk to. Which means using MSN. Gah!

4 comments

  1. Try stacking the IM windows in GTalk. It’s cool as all hell.

    And because for some reason MSN Messenger’s chat history won’t work for me at the moment

    The XSLT in Windows Live Messenger Beta is broken, I think. I can write you a viewer to show them if you want?

    My brother expressed his disappointment that Google Talk had not become a kind of Jabber-style application that would let you communicate with users of MSN, Yahoo! and AIM.

    It’s based on Jabber, and communicates with all other Jabber servers now (I can talk to myself through my Jabber account now, which is a little less insane than the way I do it usually). They’ve said they’re adding further interoperability by supporting more open protocols, but I don’t think there’s any plans to emulate non-open protocols, which is pretty right, really.

  2. […] Well, given that I wrote about it the other day without having actually used it, I’ll just quickly write my brief thoughts on Google Chat. It’s pretty nifty; quite impressive, and quite similar to what I expected. Interestingly, unlike in Google Talk, emoticons are actually there (in a sense!). I think that Google Chat is best viewed as an optional extra, as I’d rather use Google Talk if I could. However, Google Chat would be extremely useful if you were on a PC that doesn’t have Google Talk installed. […]