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AOL IM Rival Pulls The Plug 137

A reader writes: " has an interesting story about TribalVoice who was probably the only real threat to AOL in the instant messenger field, since AOL's acquisition of ICQ. David fought Goliath and lost. Now the only one left fighting AOL over IM, is Microsoft. How ironic." There's actually more then just Pow Wow left - Jabber comes to mind, but the field has definitely narrowed over the last few years.
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AOL IM Rival Pulls The Plug

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    TribalVoice was a cheap, third-rate product snapped up at a fire-sale price from yet another owner that couldn't make it fly.

    And abusive of net resources to boot.

    I do on-demand dialup so I can process mail automatically. Normally, this means a 5 minute call when my system demands a connection and then it times out when the mail is done.

    I came home one night to find my connection still up, more than 8 hours since the last scheduled mail transfer. Short version of story: some moron had registered a dialup IP address as their PowWow address, and their buddy's PowWow client had been trying to connect to his buddy's system every 20 seconds for the whole 8 hours. And this nonsense kept happening for several weeks.

    Tribal couldn't understand why this might be a problem and they would do nothing to help find either the misregistered flubby or his buddy, nor would they provide enough protocol data so I could write a "shut the fuck up and go away" demon.

    Of course, WebRamp is not blameless in this -- their marvelous product counted incoming PowWow packets as valid data even when all it did was throw them away as undeliverable. WebRamp couldn't understand why this was a problem, "just shut the modem off when you are done", they told me.

    Even webservers that are trying to keep the previous caller's connection alive eventually back off and let the connection time out, but PowWow was never that smart. They'd have been filtered at the network routers were they my routers.

  • My understanding was that AOL was blocking non-AIM clients from using the server (that is, there's an undocumented call that the official AIM client sends before initiating the connection). And, Microsoft actually tried to bypass this call, and AOL reprogrammed their servers to block the MS client from connecting. But AOL does let other clients connect, so it's probably who they want to keep as friends, and who they want to make as enemies at this point.

  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Friday January 19, 2001 @05:48AM (#496609)
    I'm not trying to defend one over another, but offering some valid reasons why people are flocking to IM rather than IRC.

    • Approach Issues - the concept of chat rooms may be simple, but to *get* to a chat room you need to have software, the name of a server, and the name of the room. IRC software, particularly on the PC, is notorously bad and not intuitive, so even if the user managed to get a cliet up and running, the next step, entering the server, is not apparent from default setups. With IM, the 'server' and the 'room' are predefined, so all you need to do is open the client and you're there. Much simpler for average joes.
    • Interface issues - the fact that IM generally can be run from a docklet (taskbar), while IRC requires window real estate, generally means it's easier to keep IM open at all times.
    • Locating People - The only easy ways for this to work on IRC is hope that the person you are looking for is using the same nick they always have, and that the /notify works for you. On the other hand, since you can't change usernames on the fly on IM, you will always be able to locate somebody unless that person has completely left the system (and dropped the username).
    • The 'Instant' part - assuming from the above that you leave your IM client open at all times, then you have a quick way of dropping a line to a person without having to open a mail client (Yes, with today's computers, that's negliable, but think from a joe average POV). The fact that many of the features of IRC and email are grouped into IM as features you can access 'instantly' without opening another program is a plus to most people.
    • Location independence - As long as you have a copy of the IM client and an internet connection, you can check into IM and look at your messages, files, or whatever without having to download them at that time --- and then when you get to your 'home' machine, proceed to grab them. With IRC, you're limited to any services bots that might be there for messages, and totally SOL'ed with files.
    • Legitamite business uses - Many businesses are beginning to use IM as a way for interoffice communication, since for power computer users, sending off an instant message can be faster than picking up the phone and calling that person. In addition, it's easy to connect two sites of the same company without incuring long distance changes. And as pointed out in regards to the AOL/TW merger, the potental to add video conferencing to AOL's IM is there -- instant video communications with fellow workers is a dream for many PHBs.

    Now certainly there are much better things about IRC than IM, IMO, but most are related to the stability and scalability of the system. In addition, there's some privacy concerns, given that with IM, all your information and messages are going through a central server. And there are some things that IM can do that IRC can't, and vice versa. But from John Q. Public, those 'important' features are in IM, and not IRC.

  • MSN IM doesn't allow you to send messages to somebody who is offline, or if you're in invisible mode. I had to install it for work, and I hate it. I can't belive a 350K d/l made me reboot too! Anyway, I've already typed several message and they had it tell me that it couldn't connect due to that person going off line. It's a POS. Somebody in another thread had indicated that AOL IM is similar. Yahoo IM is the best that I've tried!
  • Yahoo IM is my favourite. I just had to install MSN IM for work, and I hate it. Yahoo IM lets me stay invisible, but still send and receive messages. It lets me send messages to people who are not there, and it lets me take messages when I'm logged of. Conferencing is easy. It maintains one connection, logging me off when I log on from another machine. It doesn't require a reboot to install. It's cross platform.
  • Personally I prefer the Yahoo IM over MSN IM. It doesn't look as flashy as the MSN one, but it has better functionality. It doesn't require a reboot to install either.
  • Does anybody know what is going on with MessengerA2Z. I contacted them asking for the source code under the GPL. They responded that it would be available very shortly on sourceforge, but I haven't seen the site change at all: []
  • Bite me. I installed it on a Win2K AS and a Win2K Pro machine. It asked to reboot them both.
  • Oh, sorry.. I'm about 10 years too late for that one...
  • I don't understand the allure of IM. I have used it before, but it just feels like stupid email. Before you know it, you have burnt an hour yacking back and forth. I have much more meaningful exchanges over email, where there is a buffer of time. Having something instant often just coddles idle communication.

    Maybe I'm old fashioned about it, but I figure IRC is a better way of doing this stuff, but then I also don't like IRC that much. Like MUDs and other things, they steal a lot of time. IRC, MUD and IM are the sitcoms of the internet.

  • Yahoo! [] does IM too, including voice.
  • They did make it work, but AOL foiled [] them.

    Then they tried again, and again, and again. Each time, AOL blocked [] them. They've proven that they can tell the difference [] between clones and their official client. I don't know why AOL doesn't do the same thing to the linux clones. But don't say Microsoft hasn't tried, because they have.
  • It's a really nice client, as proprietary ones go. What sold me on it is that it was (as of 1.5 years ago) the only IM software that supported messaging over HTTP proxies. It comes for Linux and Java, too. And you can easily turn off the ad banner. What I don't like about it is that it sometimes drops messages, without any warnings (but then AFAIK all IM clients do).
  • by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Friday January 19, 2001 @05:11AM (#496620) Homepage
    Microsoft is complaining that they cannot make a client communicating with the AIM/ICQ networks because AOL keeps the protocol proprietary.

    Yet there are tons of free/open software clients working flawlessly. If we can figure it out, why can't they? Are they more vulnerable to legal action from AOL regarding reverse engineering?

  • Ug. Yes, I tried Odigo and deemed it crap almost immediately. It could never log me into Yahoo and it's AIM support was flaky. I guess I wasn't looking for the people finder part, I just wanted a unified messenger similar to Gaim or Everybuddy on Unix (I run them on Solaris, therefore I won't say "for linux") but for Windows. It sounded promising, but in practice it pretty much sucks.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Friday January 19, 2001 @04:49AM (#496622)
    sorry, emails are difficult to use for standard conversation and due to the lag of sending the messages it makes it difficult to get a quick response...

    IRC *was* a great chat system in the past. I still use it at times but honestly most people aren't willing to learn it, the lag is horrible at times, all the netsplits suck, and the recent DOS attacks make it less alluring than it used to be.

    AIM has made phone calls pretty much worthless in college. When you are asking someone if they are going out it is a lot less work to double click their name and type the message than have to wait for the rings, the answer, and possibly the answering service of choice...

    IMHO there is no real threat to AOL. I used to use ICQ but became annoyed by the constant barage of porn spam. IRC sucks because of the above. AIM has integrated file sending, group chat, and everything that ICQ, or IRC has...

    Yes, this is all a matter of opinion on my part, but I really feel that AIM has changed the way that the Internet chat world is... I walk through the dorms and see MANY MANY people chatting away w/tons of people at the same time (not just people that know how to use ICQ or IRC).

    Just my worthless .02
  • [] has a list of all the public servers with all the gateways they have installed.
  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Friday January 19, 2001 @04:10AM (#496624)
    Tribal Voice's PowWow has been around longer than AOL's internet gateway to its instant messaging. They have always had tacky, cheap-looking software and a small number of active users. Three million? Sure, maybe cumulative in the 5 years after they first launched.

    They had more active users than MSN and Yahoo instant messaging in the end? I find that hard to believe. This is like saying Vivo is still a "threat" to RealPlayer and MS Media Player, or that the Amiga is a "threat" to anything.

    Like many CMGI acquisitions, TribalVoice was a cheap, third-rate product snapped up at a fire-sale price from yet another owner that couldn't make it fly.
  • Maybe because IRC is only realtime. It does not enable leaving messages when the recipient is offline. But email is ideal for when the correspondents are not online at the same time, so IM is not needed in that situation either.
  • AIM is probably the easiest to use, and I still use it. I also use ICQ, which is my preferred app, since I can communicate in ways other than just typing back and forth. I'll probably get rid of AIM one day, but I will stick to ICQ. I know AOL, a big evil corporation makes this stuff, but it still doesn't mean that it isn't useful. (I had the displeasure of working for them... trust me, its even more disorganized on the inside than it appears!)
  • Wait a sec. Pow Wow was the only 3rd party to legally use AIM's protocol, also MSN, etc... If they went out of business, its *not* AOL's doing - its because something else was wrong - business plans, whatever.
  • ICQ and AIM have this too now days... but yes, Yahoo had it back when they didn't.

  • by Trith ( 10719 )
    I cannot believe you forgot Yahoo. It is small, fast, stores your contact list on the server, has almost no ads, and has Linux and FreeBSD clients.

    They are also on the IMunited committee.

  • Everyone I know uses Yahoo IM.

  • If you don't like all the marketing hype and shockwave movies don't go to, but try the Free Software community site www.jabber.ORG [].
  • Perhaps you should be the first person you know to try, then. :-) I use Jabber exclusivly now and by using the Jabber transports I'm able to chat with friends on AIM and ICQ while talking directly with Jeremie (head Jabber honcho) using Jabber. There's really more to the Jabber idea than IM, but that's how it got started so it's likely to appear that Jabber is just an IM solution for a long time. However, since it is all XML based, you can really transmit any form of data just as you would send a regular Jabber IM. That opens up huge possibilites for inter-program communications across the Internet (for example). It's a really big idea under the hood, but you have to get in there and play with it to understand it. Check out jabber.ORG (not .com) if you want to find out cool technical details.
  • The working group charter is here [], and there is additional information about protocol candidates available here [].

    The open source community needs to get with the program, read the RFC's and the Internet Drafts, and start coding.

    Before it's too late.

  • even weirder is the very thought of ever hearing those words from the likes of microsoft.
  • I have to say that I am sick and tired of all of these services and their incompatiability. I have been using IRC forever. ICQ for 3 years. AIM for a year and I had to get MSN's Instant-Messaging-Somthing-Or-Other the other night because a couple of my friends don't use the other tools I have. Last night I was talking to 4 people. Every one of them was chatting using a different service! I had no desktop space, just because of the applications' listings. I'm tired of it. Soneone HAS to make something for Windows so I can have things as nice as they are in Linux. If you are still looking for a Linux solutionm read this months issue of Maximum Linux. There's a great article that reviews about 15 linux clones for compatability, abilities and how manny messaging systems they can use at once.


  • Although it's not a major player yet, it definitely has potential: Webbased IM, entirely over http. Check it out at [].
  • I swear it is just like watch a bunch of preschoolers arguing over a toy or something.
    Unfortunately, there is nobody to come in and make them "share".

    Why the hell should AOL share? They spent the money to develop the service and view it as a differentiation to sell their services. Its their servers and they should have the right to tell other people who want to use them to go screw themselves.

    You can bet if IM had failed, all of AOL's competitors wouldn't be falling over themselves to help AOL pay for their failure....

  • by HoldenCaulfield ( 25660 ) on Friday January 19, 2001 @05:07AM (#496638) Journal
    Why are people using incompatible Instant Messangers, when there is IRC? IRCs protocol is open, it has clients for nearly every OS and arch, and only because A uses mIRC and B uses xchat it doesn't mean they can't talk to each other...

    There are probably quite a few reasons for this . . . the one that comes to mind first is the fact that instant messengers are somewhat more user-friendly than IRC. Extra features, such as voice or graphical smileys could also be a reason.

    Expanding on the user friendly thread, registered screen names/nicks could be an issue as well. Granted there are services on some of the IRC networks but they're not simple point and click deals. You have to learn the commands, which are often beyond the grasp of regular Windows users. And dialup users can forget having a 24/7 connection, or perhaps eggdrops to keep their nicks on networks that don't have nick services.

    Yet another reason could be the sheer number of IRC networks. I usually have 2 irc clients open so I can be on two networks simultaneously, to stay in touch with different groups of people. (Admittedly, I know of people who run 2 or more IM clients as well.)

    And perhaps the biggest reason is AOL itself. Every subscriber they have is automatically an IM user, and if you want to converse in real time with AOL users, IM is the easiest way to do so. AOL users have no real reason to go and learn IRC, when most of the people they want to chat with have accepted, and use, AOL's defacto standard.

  • by PimpBot ( 32046 ) on Friday January 19, 2001 @04:32AM (#496639) Homepage
    I go to one of the top CS schools [] and I have never seen anyone actually use Jabber or its clones...but Hemos et. al. seem to treat it like its popular and everyone uses it...

    Do people out there actually use it, and if so, what's so great about it? Or is this just GNU/FUD? ;-)
  • AND, Yahoo Messenger has both a Java and a pure Linux client. Last I checked, you could do voice with neither, but I think that has more to do with the piss-poor support for sound under Linux (read: this is Creative's fault) than anything else.

    Anyway, Yahoo Messenger is pretty big, isn't it? I and a multitude of my friends use it. In fact, I don't know anyone who uses AIM...

  • I have been very interested in using Jabber but have not been able to find any public servers to use.


  • BeOS has a few good IM clients other than Jabber (which just came out for Be). For AOL IM, there's BeAIM. It looks nice and is easy to use. There are at least 3 ICQ clients that I know of...ICBMx86, GimmiICQ and Gimmick. The latter two are a bit flaky IMO. ICBMx86 (intercontinental ballistic messenger) works well. It takes a very minimalist approach - just a little grey box with your buddy lists and pop-up windows for chat.

  • While I haven't used GNOME-ICU since it was still called GTK-ICQ, it also looks like a good product, good competition for LICQ, though maybe not quite as advanced yet.
  • Back in the day when I actually had free time, and was coding for fun, me and a few friends thought that would be the best client ever to right. I do agree that IRC would be a good alternative to all these IM services, but if a client was developed that acted as an IM client while using IRC server, you would be set. You could have it connect to some popular irc networks (not just one, for backup reasons), and just go from there... would not be that hard.

    Its not what it is, its something else.
  • There is absolutely nothing about the "to my knowledge" disclaimer that qualifies it as a troll.

    It is the same as saying, "I _think_ this is correct, but I may be wrong," which is a perfectly reasonable statement if one is slightly insecure as to the varacity of the details he or she is imparting. Liability is moot, as the gentleman/woman in question was only volunteering his/her understanding of a situation, without obligation for 100% accuracy to you, me, or anyone else on Slashdot. At least he/she was polite enough to indicate that his/her facts may have been in error.
  • I said:

    There is absolutely nothing about the "to my knowledge" disclaimer that qualifies it as a troll.

    You quote another issue entirely, which, yes, might be perceived as "trollish."


  • QNI is an instant messenger that uses IRC as its protocol. Its for BeOS. You can see it at BeBits. Granted its just a suggestion app, meant it was created with little features or functionality as it was just to get people's opinions. If you want to talk to the creater, go to #beos and look for YNOP. As for Jabber, it is still under development...that is the only excuse I can use for such a poor messenger system. The project is poorly documented, especially when concerning transports. Moreover, a number of the Jabber servers I have tried using can't guarantee that the transports work. I think using IRC would be a great idea. You could implement a way for the messages to be stored for offline messaging (heaven forbid someone actually have to implement something with no vision).

  • Ah yes. But I want my software to be the client, not some thin client that has to send data to server that ...well..quite frankly is not a real solution for messaging at this time. Jabber is not stable enough for me to justify its usefulness.

  • If you're running on Windows, try using Omni - that supports AIM, Gnutella, ICQ, MSN, Napster and Yahoo... yup, 6 different IM serviecs in one handy app.

    I got fed up with ICQ because it is turning into serious bloatware - 8Mb in RAM and growing. Even MS's offering was smaller than that! Miranda ICQ weighs in at only 450Kb, but lacks too much functionality yet to be a real replacement.
  • Licq is a darn good icq clone.
  • Use ICQ 2000b (maybe 2000a too, I can't check)? Look again. Start to send a file or url. hellllooooo ads! Isn't it just great? Boy, I'm glad I use licq...
  • we use AIM at work - i would say it is a vital tool to our everyday development environment.

    sure, we also use email and newsservers, but unlike these asynchronous-type mediums, chat proggys are synchronous (or at least more so than email.) when i pop a question to a mate, i usually get a prompt response...whether i am asking him for the next round of foosball or if the SQL server is up.

    just b/c you don't see a use for it, don't think that it isn't useful to others. i am very happy in my open environment now where i have email and AIM, as opposed to the corporate hell-hole i worked for previously who wouldn't let us run AIM at all....

    it's like everything else a tool!

  • Indeed, the voice calling feature is better than MS's. I think the Yahoo product definately has some legs to it.
  • does anybody remember Broadcast? a macos networking tool which enabled a very early primitive version of peer-to-peer chat? it was all the rage on campus in 1995-96...
  • Anybody ever heard of Odigo? It combines ICQ, AIM and Yahoo messenger into one...very nicely I might add.
    Odigo Homepage
  • Hey, now... I agree with the diff. progs for diff. things. I use IRC all the time, but at work, or when I need to quickly poke my head into someones proverbial office, I send an IM, usually using Yahoo Messenger (which, I'm surprised wasn't mentioned.)

    There is def. something to be said for the small footprint, one-click-startup-and-sign-on features of the progs. that are out there. I don't think it's a matter of 1337-nees, it's just convenience... and I didn't even need to condescend to anyone.

  • Nah, I think it's better to say that IM is the telephone of the internet and IRC is the partyline of the internet.
  • I think IM for chatting just tends to be easier in general. You don't have all the other people talking about crap you don't want to talk about while you're trying to have a conversation. Plus with all the skript kiddies DoSing all the IRC servers you're lucky to find your buddy on at the same time you are.

    Look at the popularity of GAIM for Linux, it's better then the windows client and widely used by *nix people. Hell, I used it on my solaris box at my old job.

  • That's a very good question. And AIM has toc, the open server that most non-ad-serving clients use. How could the possible make ANY money out of that.

    I know ICQ sells a copy of their server for inter-office use, but I can't see that market being very large. They have to pull a profit from somewhere..

  • by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Friday January 19, 2001 @04:02AM (#496660) Homepage
    Mostly because IMs are more one-on-one then a chat room on IRC. sure, you can /msg people but IMs are more convient. I use both IRC and AIM, and sometimes I talk to the same people on both. it really depends on what I'm talking about and if I want a whole chatroom to hear it.

    Also, at work, my boss HATES people to be on IRC, but for AIM/ICQ they don't really care, in fact we use ICQ for inter-office stuff all the time.

  • Yahoo Messenger has both a Java and a pure Linux client.

    Except both the Java and the native Linux client (which is closed source, buggy and hasn't been updated since August) are rubbish.

    If you're using Yahoo! Messenger under Linux I would throughly recommend switching to GAIM [].

  • Yeah, we opensourcers tend to hate monopolies. However, in this case it might be a good thing. Ideally everyone would be able to know if anyone else was online right? It wouldn't be a problem is Alice used AIM, Bob used ICQ, and Charlie used Jabber. Ideally they could all gossip about Dicks new haircut together online, right? Well AOL has almost cornered the market, and there is SOME chance that the AOL/TW merger will succesfully force AOL to allow others to interoperate. If this happens, I predict we all get what we want.

    For a stable, well designed, easy to add features to, pretty e-mail client for X check out

  • AIM is easy but almost featureless. ICQ is feature heavy but a clunky interface. MSN is similar to AIM overall, slightly more features and better interface but I only have like two people I talk to on there.

    I do like Yahoo! Messenger. A solid balance between the feature heavy(redundantly so) ICQ and the feature light AIM. The interface is more complicated than AIMs, due to the better feature set, but all the features make sense and are easy to use. The one thing I don't like is the limitation on the number of friends you can have on it. But as an instant messaging client, Yahoo! has the best overall. ICQ for its greater feature set is useful as a secondary, and the others, well if you havbe friends on them maybe otherwise why bother?
  • I think I heard of them maybe once before this article. So I don't quite get this quote:

    "TribalVoice who was probably the only real threat to AOL in the instant messenger field"

    How can a geek who almost always has 4 IM programs running(ICQ, MSN, Yahoo!, and AIM) and has on several occasions looked for more not have gotten into "the only real threat to AOL in the instant messenger field"?? Why is it that I see people put Yahoo Messenger names on email sig files, but never TribalVoice??? And TV is the only real IM competition AOL had?? Just seems odd to me... Yahoo at least is a serious competitor to AIM, but not something I almost never heard of.
  • Also I think that Yahoo uses port 80. So if your hyper-security conscious company has everything locked down everything barring the Web, you won't be able to use AIM but you can still use Yahoo.
  • My main annoyance was having to download an AIM plug-in every other day. I do remember it having trouble with Yahoo (I used it when they had barely introduced Yahoo). The trouble being that it never succeeded...that would be failure wouldn't it? But for AIM and ICQ it worked well (minus AOL creating annoyances), especially with ICQ. And I never use Yahoo for IM.

    The people finder had its ups and downs...but I was usually in invisible/stealth mode.

    Hence, I would deem some of the features (those that didn't work, it was still beta when I played with it) crap, but overall I thought it was good. I was most impressed with their response time to AOL's blockades.

    I'll have to check out the two you mentioned
    Ahh....the hope of a standard protocol for IM being implemented in the real world!


  • at Odigo [], they make an IM tool that is pretty much open for anyone to use, well 'cept *n*x users. So...let me rephrase that...they make an IM tool that is pretty much available to a large number of computer owners/users.

    But the cool part is that you can go online to the AIM, Yahoo! and ICQ networks from one IM interface. The only quip is that AOL sets up some block regularly (at least last time I used Odgio, need to set it up on my home/new work box). But Odigo would inevitably bypass it.

    Overall, I liked it and used it. It also allowed you to find people (If you're looking for love, conversation, etc.) by profiles or make yourself invisible. They are making a Mac version now, which they didn't before...don't see why they wouldn't make a Linux version. Would the source open up? Dunno! Anyone else use it/know of any Odigo for Linux movements?


  • it true that Microsoft is crying foul over AOL's not opening their AIM up to MS-Messenger? As in not allowing MS Messenger users not being able to talk to users on AIM?

    I remember hearing on the radio a news report that they were actually going to court for (get this) AOL stifling competition in this market. I've been all over looking for the story, but can't find it. Anyone else hear about this, and if you have do you happen to have a link? I could use a good laugh :-)

  • I use talk a great deal, as a Unix utility for communicating with other users on multiuser systems. There really arn't too many other uses for it though. If you're attempting to talk to other people on the net, IRC, or instant messengers are much better than giving everybody a shell account on a box and try to organize it with write.

    Talk is completely useless IMHO. It requires a daemon to work (which introduces security issues) and it simply reproduces features of write. For instance, if two people wish to talk, they can just write eachother and then take turns typing (otherwise their words will get jumbled together). The only feature talk has is the possiblility of talking to people on remote computers, which duplicates the functionality of IRC as well as creating an even larger security issue, an open talk port to the internet.

    By the way, you forgot to mention wall, a really useful command with which one can communicate with all users. Very useful in administrating multiuser boxes.

  • Check out JavverView []. They maintain a short list of public Jabber servers with useful information about each.

    It's a good thing you didn't ask me about STABLE Jabber servers. I don't know what I could've answered then.

  • by Trinition ( 114758 ) on Friday January 19, 2001 @04:41AM (#496671) Homepage
    There's actually more then just Pow Wow left - Jabber comes to mind, but the field has definitely narrowed over the last few years.

    Sure, Jabber is there, but I think it will be a long time, unfortunately, before it has anything meaningful to offer.

    The server, to my knowledge, only runs on Linux, and still has some bugs -- especially in the agents. The clients (I've only tried the Windows flavor) are either buggy or lacking in features -- or both!

    In fact, I tried experimentally to use Jabber last week instead of AIM (I tried JabberIM, WinJab and myJabber). I had to change servers twice because the previous one shut down an agent, or shut down completely. Each time, I essentially had to hand-enter my Roster items (a.k.a. buddy list) again since there is no way to import/export rosters.

    I'm pretty close to installing VMWare and running Linux in it so I can run a Jabber server and develop my own client. But, who am I kidding? I don't have time for that!

    I'll just stick to AIM, with all of its glorious bloat, for now

  • Or, whoever survives will just be stronger - and by an amount proportionate to their opponent :) And since they're both huge, the winner will be.. damned huge.
  • There's an option to turn off that window, too :) I've got my home machine setup to do that. Makes life muuuuch happier.
  • Not only for Linux, they have a version for FreeBSD as well.

    Regards, Tommy
  • a long, loooooooong time. I haven't tried the Linux versions (oh wait, I don't run Linux...) but WinJab and Jabber for BeOS are both horribly buggy and display useless, incomprehensible error messages. Maybe AOL did learn a thing or two when trying to write software dumbed down for the masses and maybe they're able to apply that to their own software? Bloated or not, it's easy to use, and that's the bottom line.

    A friend pointed me at altavista's chat client, which handles ICQ, AIM, MSN, and Yahoo, but I haven't followed up on that to see if he's for real...
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • Oops, forgot to mention that =( The biggest problem BeAIM has is that it won't import AIM 4.X Windows Buddy Lists... It locks up and I can't even do a stack trace =( But other than that it's hella cool and functional. The ICQ clients are indeed flaky, but an analysis of the Windows ICQ 2k betas show that really, there's no such thing as a good icq client right now...
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • Troll.
    • The server, to my knowledge, only runs on Linux, and still has some bugs
    Using a "to my knowledge" disclaimer doesn't remove any liability in making sure that your statements are correct. Jabber will run on any unixlike operating system - I believe is running on OpenBSD, and I personally link to a server running on Solaris 2.6.

    And yes, I'm sure it still has some bugs. Everything has bugs. Did you want to further clarify your statement? Perhaps tell me that my jabber server is unstable?

    • I'm pretty close to installing VMWare and running Linux in it so I can run a Jabber server and develop my own client. But, who am I kidding? I don't have time for that!
    That doesn't even seem the slightest bit trollish to you? You'd need the equivalent IQ of a pile of bricks to undergo installation of VMWare just to run a jabber server before even checking what platforms it will run on. I don't believe this poster is that dumb.
  • Hello, That is not correct.

    After your experience, Tribal Voice modified the PowWow software to make five connection attempts to determine if a buddy was present at the IP address and then stop.


    Aryeh Goretsky
  • Hello,

    The threat referred to, I believe, was the attention Tribal Voice brought to AOL's market dominance in the instant messaging field by generating publicity about interoperability issues and how former CEO Ross Bagully's testimony in front of the FCC might interfere with the AOL-Time Warner merger.


    Aryeh Goretsky
  • Hello,

    It may have been a poor decision for Tribal Voice to choose a public relations company that was incapable of using its products on most of their computers. It is unfortunate that Tribal Voice never developed versions of PowWow for other operating systems, such as MacOS, which would have made it more accessible to the employees of the public relations firm.

    Tribal Voice used InstallShield to set up the software on a computer, a very common program for installing software under Windows.

    If you had trouble installing or using the software, or were concerned about security risks, it might have been useful to contact Tribal Voice directly to resolve these issues in order to make it easier for your employer to handle the Tribal Voice account.


    Aryeh Goretsky
  • Hello,

    Tribal Voice used AOL's published protocols, which referenced their servers. If AOL did not wish for other companies to use their servers, they should not have published one of their instant messaging protocols publicly.

    The situation is a little more analagous to the telephone system: If every phone company used different incompatible equipment, you would have to have multiple phones, phone lines, and bills so you could communicate with everyone who used a service different than yours. Different phone companies, though, do interconnect, even though the resources used may not be equal in each direction. Ultimately, the consumer benefits from this reciprocity.


    Aryeh Goretsky
  • Right. There are enough morons bleeting away on IRC as it stands.
  • My contactlist is kept serverside. (or is this a disadvantage?)

    This is a mixed blessing. AOL also keeps contact lists server-side, but only for the AOL-member version of their IM client (AIM stores contact lists client-side). The nice thing about server-side contact lists is the ease with which a user can port their account from one computer to the next. The problem with this is privacy/security issues.

    Actually, all of the IM clients have one or two great features, along with some headache causing frustrations. Each one has a different piece of the puzzle. For instance, ICQ has the feature to require a user's authorization for another user to contact them. Unfortunately they botch the delivery of this feature by keeping the authentication client-side (no doubt a load off their servers, but a simple crack to older versions of the client allow malicious users to contact privacy-minded individuals whether they like it or not). Another result of client-side authentication is that users must repeatedly ask authorization to contact a friend every time they install the client on a new system.

    Yahoo has better support over http proxies, AIM is almost entirely spam-free (although a few changes to the default configuration keep my ICQ spam to an easily dealt-with minimum).

    I'd like to see these features in a universal IM client, should open standards develop in this arena:
    * Local storage/management of contact list, but with an easy interface for exporting/importing contacts between clients on multiple computers
    * Server-side authorization for contacting new users (possibly with a password feature for automatic authorization, allowing previously-authorized users or personal friends to automatically get authorization but without storing information on who is actually contacting who)
    * Offline message delivery
    * Multiple user peer-to-peer chat sessions
    * File Transfer (possibly with the ability to publicly/privately share file directories and search for available files...users could choose to share certain files with publicly with the world, while keeping others restricted to users on their contact list, or even individual users...)
    * Configurable user information, with the ability to offer different profiles to users with different levels of trust
    * Standard privacy features such as the ability to make yourself invisible to certain users or groups of users, and the option to turn these off for those times your bored and really want to chat with strangers.
  • There's also the problem that changing the servers is undoubtedly extremely expensive for AOL -- every time they hack the servers so that they won't work with Microsoft, they're essentially just making their servers less robust and more brittle. It's pretty easy to guess what kind of bill they'll get from their tech support outsources, not to mention what AOL stock would do the next morning, if they managed to f*ck up their AIM servers by making the software a little too brittle some night.

    I don't have a great deal of respect for the engineers at AOL, but I have to imagine that even they understand implications of replacing the software on the wildly popular, heavily loaded, 24x7x365 server clusters that make up a large part of their business, with software that is specifically designed to be less robust and break with "certain" clients.

    The fact that AOL is willing to repeatedly f*ck around with that software just to d*ck over Microsoft is a very good indication of where AOL feels the threat to their business model lies, what lengths they'll go to to protect that model, and the amount of respect they have for their customers.

    It ain't a pretty picture, sunshine.
  • Because I don't have time to deal with all the port-scanning, splits, channel floods, etc.

  • There are two versions of the AIM protocol, one used by the nice AOL clients, and a less feature-full one used by the Free clients.(called oscar)

    In order to use the full AIM protocol, you have to reverse engineer it - besause the specs are not given out, and plus you are vulnerable to blocking and bugs if you dont interact well with the AIM servers.

    Microsoft is also unlike Free developers, since it has a large concentrations of liability absorbing capital. I.E., they can be sued. Until they get out from under the "Antitrust" issue, they are not likely to countersue or do any "Microsoft pressure" tactics to force the issue.

  • I use both messenger services and I am not unpleased with either of them. Still...

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out why people prefer AIM over ICQ. ICQ can do everything that AIM can do and there are no ads on ICQ. (of course, you can remove the ads on AIM) If you want a real-time chat in ICQ you just open up a talk session. Someone sends you a message, and you get a notification in the sys tray, not a huge window. The beautiful thing is you can just let it sit there in the queue with ICQ. You'll get to it when you get to it. With AIM, this large window pops up right in your face. "You WILL chat with me!" Subtlety is a lost art.

    The truth is that AOL spends all it's time pushing AIM and none on ICQ. That's tragic. AOL bought a great product/service in ICQ. It's just too bad that they are not giving it a real chance.

  • Tired of AIM ads? Then you should use the AIMazing WinAmp plugin that covers them up with oscilloscopes and spectrum analyzers. Haven't you been reading your /.?

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • seems to be a nice program that allows you to connect to AIM,MSN,Yahoo, and IRC. I have been using it for about a week and I relly like it. Xiadix
  • What needs to happen is make a standard for IMing, and then have every messenger compatible with it.

    Its like if every single telephone company wasn't compatible with each other... whats the point of using a smaller company if you cant talk to anyone? At least if they are all equal in service you can freely choose the one that gives you the best options.
  • Anyone still using write and talk?

    write - send a message to another user

    write user [ttyname]

    Write allows you to communicate with other users, by copying lines from
    your terminal to theirs.

    and another goodie:

    talk - talk to another user

    talk person [ttyname]

    Talk is a visual communication program which copies lines from your ter
    minal to that of another user.
  • Probably because IRC 1) isn't advertised as much 2) requires you to log into these giant servers, which don't all talk among themselves 3) is usually harder to use / is associated with more technical expertise, which not everyone cares to get into (i.e. grandma)
  • Wait...if AOL/timewarner/everything and Microsoft are feuding over this...should we be upset? THey are both huge companies!! They could destroy each other!!! /me prays!

    also...I found a typo..there-can-onlby-be-one dept.
    Hemos, how do you spell only? slow down on those keys! :)
    of pointing out a spelling mistake, i have probably made several in this post....

  • or they will kill each other.....(that is what I am praying for) and a new company will rise up to take their place. Specifically [] (that is my dream at least...)

  • ICQ doesn't have rotating ads like AIM and MSN, but the advertising is still there. Whenever you first start ICQ it pops up a window, with plenty of advertisments. Check out the ICQ homepage. Chock full of advertising. What AOL is failing to realize about ICQ is that it is not My Yahoo, or even AOL Lite. If they just stuck to a barebones IM client, instead of having all the bells and whistles of a "portal," I would be more willing to use them. The RAM that ICQ sucks up on a windows client is astounding.
  • I swear it is just like watch a bunch of preschoolers arguing over a toy or something.

    Unfortunately, there is nobody to come in and make them "share".

    You can see parallels on a larger scale with other not so civilized types who come in and rip off people "for their own good".

    "This reduction of service is by popular demand". etc.

    a pox on all their houses.

  • Why the hell should AOL share?

    not their messenger service, so much as all these folks trying to monopolize the internet for themselves.

    The Internet started off as freely sharable resources. Now it is going in quite to opposite direction.

  • Well, while the titans are fighting, we users can just have a look at the advantages of using one or other IM. Why should we or not use their products?
    Actually I use both Microsoft IM and ICQ.

    I use MS IM because:
    I work at different offices on different nt through port 80, that is in most cases open to workstations and firewall configs, so IM connects preserve internet browsing to their employees. In most cases I am unabled to use ICQ.
    You can check your hotmail account (that I use for the same reason as MS IM) without actually browsing to the webpage.
    My contactlist is kept serverside. (or is this a disadvantage?)

    I use ICQ because:
    I can send messages to people not online, they'll receive it when they come online
    There is a version for my linuxbox
    I don't get adds
  • Probably because IRC is too 1337 for the average AIM user. AIM is stupid easy to set up, all their "AOL" friends are on it, and a good deal of AIM users have migrated from AOL because they got broadband, or went to college and have full time connections (and they can leave their answering machine on 24/7)etc. and still want to chat with their AOL friends. It's easy, it's free, and it does what they need it to do. And AOL has even written a Linux version of AIM, albeit with a quater of the functionality of the Win version, and IMHO doesn't hold a candle to GAIM. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with IRC, it's great really. But compared to AIM, it requires too much effort for the average user.

    "Everything that can be invented has been invented."

    1. There's actually more then just Pow Wow left
      Did you forget to pay the typo tax, Hemos? ;-)
    2. Well, at least this means Everybuddy [] won't need some new "driver" for newer services.
      Except if AOL/MSN, etc. just decide to update their protocols to force the public to upgrade towards their tools...

  • by Calle Ballz ( 238584 ) on Friday January 19, 2001 @04:18AM (#496720) Homepage
    I see that AIM has their own little AOL ads embedded, and MSN IM has their own MSN ads embedded into them, but ICQ never pops up any ads on me. Why is it that there is this stupid competition out there for a chat service? Do AOL & Microsoft want to collect terabytes of pre-teen chatting? What is the deal?

  • When my gaming clan originally made the form for our join page, ICQ was required. However, once I went around checking what everybody had, ALL of the members already had AIM, while only 3 or 4 had ICQ. I'm not suprised. I've grown to like AIM more than ICQ, if only for it's quick messaging. I've customized it so it works for me, pretty much. The annoying sounds only ring when I first get a message, and I changed them to a random sound depending on my mood...

    I think AIM's warning system is a pile of crap. In fact, BLOCK should be the ONLY option, and it should be taken effect immediately. As of right now, If you respond to a message and then block someone when they start warning you, they can still warn you to their full extent.. Wha? That's totally abused... Not to mention AOL's stupid system of allowing anyone to create any name at any time... All it asks for is differant email addresses. Hell, I have UNLIMITED email addresses. I could sit there all nite and create. There is no limit! Even if you use the SAME email, you can still do it 5 or so times before it asks you to change!

    I don't know whether to be excited or scared. After AOL bought ICQ and Netscape, the world has been a scary place. Gah.

  • Odigo [] is an AOL and ICQ-compliant IM. Whenever AOL finds a way to cut them off, Odigo releases a patch fix a day later :)
  • Why are people using incompatible Instant Messangers, when there is IRC? IRCs protocol is open, it has clients for nearly every OS and arch, and only because A uses mIRC and B uses xchat it doesn't mean they can't talk to each other...
  • Ok, I'm wondering... how much does ICQ/IM/etc have to suffer from DOS attacks relative to e.g. IRC?
    I'm guessing AOL has some bandwidth to spare, but still...

    Is this less bad since there are no 'channels' to take over or what?


Forty two.