Tired of the “Big Three” instant messengers, or just looking to learn what else is out there? Either way, you've come to the right place. Here is a list of alternative instant messengers. Some are even compatible with the big corporate instant messengers, which means you can still talk to your friends on AIM, Yahoo! or Windows Live Messeinger.
Multi-protocol Instant Messengers
These are the Swiss Army knives of the IM world. This is a popular group, because it allows you to use one program to IM your contacts on all the most popular IM networks. Usually you will sacrifice some functionality, so if you want all the latest bells and whistles, you'll probably need to stick with the Big Three (AIM/ICQ, WLM, Y!M). Check out our IM Interoperability Matrix to find out what IM protocols they are compatible with.
Web-based Instant Messengers
These typically have the advantage or working across multiple operating systems. They are also a “no install” option that works well IMing on a public computer.
Single Protocol Instant Messengers
These IM programs focus on their own support for their own IM network.
Enterprise Instant Messengers
These IM programs are geared for corporations, institutions and private enterprises, often with needs for a secure, closed IM system entirely contained within their own local area network (LAN).
- IBM/Lotus Sametime
The Dead Pool
Sometimes, even a great product comes to an untimely demise. Here are some IM programs that have faded away and are no more.
- Odigo – Died April 2006
Be sure to check out the latest IM versions page for download links and more.