Monday, January 11, 2010

Google talk IM clients: Adium for OS and Trillian for XP – the good and the ugly

I only became interested in instant messaging after I had a portable platform that supported it – namely the iPhone OS 3 update (prior that release there were no message notifications) and BeejiveIM.

IM still doesn’t work terribly well on an iPhone, but that technology change tipped the balance enough to make IM interesting on my desktop.

So I’m late to the game, but catching up. I did make one mistake in the catch-up process. Since my peers are all old and wrinkly like me, they don’t know this stuff. I should have asked younger geeks what they did.

That’s why I only now realized there was a solution to two problems I have had:

  1. There’s no Google Talk client for OS X.
  2. The XP Google Talk client only supports one Google identity – I want it to support my corporate and personal GT identities.

The solution for both problems on OS X is Adium. It supports multiple identities. I even have a sneaky suspicion iChat would work too (sigh, I’ve been so disgusted with iChat Video that I’ve dismissed all aspects of it).

On XP I was hearing good things about Trillian Astra. I figured I’d install it and, if it worked, pay for Pro.


During the install Trillian tried to change my search service and it installed the toolbar – without notification or permission. This isn’t a new problem …

Does Trillian have a crapware problem- - Zero Day - researcher Liana Leahy has taken Cerulean Studios to task for bundling two third-party applications into the popular free Trillian IM client, arguing that users who are not careful during the Trillian installation process could end up with a crapware problem.

During the installation process, the default setting is for Trillian to bundle the Weather Channel Desktop and the Ask Toolbar, two products that could introduce security risks to PC users.

I uninstalled the toolbar and Trillian immediately after the installation completed.

So I’m still looking for an XP IM solution.

This isn’t the first time I’ve run into quality issues with the XP marketplace. XP is a very large market, but it’s a very undiscriminating market with a lot of vulnerable users. The quality of the software is often very low.

Update: A trusted (younger geek) colleague recommended Pidgin for XP – libpurple based open source like Adium. See also:

Update 1/13/2010: Pidgin's window didn't locate itself correctly in my two monitor setup and the app itself is pretty crude. Adium is far more polished. So I'm still looking!
Update 1/13/2010: I’d read somewhere that Windows Live Messenger would provide some interoperability with XMPP, so I tried installing it. Nope – it’s still pure Microsoft. Big install and uninstall. Surprisingly, it’s ad supported as well. First time I’ve seen Microsoft do that. I looked into AOL IM as well, but no federation there either. There’s far less interoperability that I’d expected, and the interoperable clients are disappearing. I wonder if a combination of SMS, Twitter and lack of a revenue model has killed Instant Messaging.

Update 1/14/10: Another colleague recommended meebo, but that web app doesn't support Oauth with Google -- it wants my Google credentials! I don't even give those to my mother. In any event, it only supports a single Google XMPP account.

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