Instant Messaging wars – and the winner is…

The company that developed this magnificent idea is called Jabber and they have released all their work into the open source, back in 1999. It was wonderful for the non-Windows users at that time. They installed the free server, set up a few gateways to their favourite old systems, and could finally chat and even exchange files with their friends on the Windows platform. They could even have a single account but connect to multiple services, both Jabber-based as well as legacy ones. This concept of “multiple-account clients” was later brought up by things like Trillian (for Windows), Adium/Fire (for the Mac), and GAIM (for Linux).

Jabber didn’t catch on. For the users, it was too cumbersome – you had to run your own server, and install and configure it properly (not easy). All this just to be able to chat with your MSN friends? It was way easier to go the other route – develop a set of libraries (GAIM) that integrate into all proprietary protocols into a single client. This has been proved to be quite successful as an alternative. Jabber stayed dormant in the background and was sort of forgotten except by a very few adepts, or for special situations – like for a company’s internal, private chatting system.

XMPP – Jabber’s protocols become an industry standard

But all of a sudden, 6 years later, Jabber is “in” again. Google has announced Google Talk, and, not surprising for Google, ready to adopt industry standards, it is based on Jabber. So, while you can get the client application for Google Talk, Google even goes the nice route of explaining how to configure your Jabber-compatible client to use their messaging system. Better than that. Jabber allows servers to interconnect – so, similar to email, you can connect a “grid” of servers with their own accounts, and interlink them in the “Jabber network”. You just need one client, one account – and a whole network of interconnected Jabber servers is at your service. Google is encouraging this approach.

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