2 years ago I noticed several friends no longer using Windows Live Messenger for chat, instead they were using Facebook chat. The mass majority of people I IM with use the “MSN” protocol, but its still annoying having to communicate in multiple places. Add to that separate contact lists in Skype, GTalk and Xfire. I wanted a universal Instant Messenger!
So 2 years ago I tried a whole wack of programs and decided I liked Pidgin the best. Pidgin is a open source cross-platform multi network IM client http://www.pidgin.im/. It worked very well, its a super clean interface. It didn’t have functionalty for Facebook and Xfire out-of-the-box, but there were 3rd party plugins to allow this. There were other IM clients that did this, but Pidgin was the only one that would allow me to combine or merge contacts on multiple networks. See the problem is many of my contacts are on Facebook and Windows Messenger at the same time, so my online contact list grows too large. So I wanted to be able to combine contacts. Now Pidgin worked well for a time, but the Facebook chat over the past year has stopped working or it works very poorly, mostly due to changes on the Facebook platform and security I would imagine.
So tonight I decided to look again at the options, and came across the new Trillian 5 beta. I had used Trillian way back in the 90′s as an ICQ client alternative, boy has it changed! They are billing themselfs now as a universal IM client, which supports MSN, Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and much more! Trillian in the past always had a butt ugly interface, the new 5.0 is a very nice minimal interface with a fair amount of customization.
But the BIG thing they’ve added that I want is the ability to COMBINE CONTACTS! I can hold CTRL and select “Bob” in Facebook and Windows Messenger, then right click and select “combine”. I then can choose the network priority, so say I want Messenger to take priority over Facebook chat if he’s online on both. This is awesome and works great.
If you want to try this out, one thing I had to do 2 years ago with Pidgin is rename all my groups in Windows Live Messenger and Facebook to be the same! If you don’t then you will have a messy contact list with duplicate groups. if you don’t use groups then thats fine, but when you have over 300 Messenger contacts groups are a must!
Now only if it could integrate Xfire and Steam!
You can download and try out Trillian here: http://www.trillian.im/learn/tour-trillian5.html