Rumours started circulating yesterday morning regarding a Google instant messaging client. It was spotted that talk.google.com was responding and running a jabber server. Today (well, last night, for me) Google Talk has been launched, and very interesting it is too. It’s an instant messaging program with built in voice capability. As it runs on Jabber, it should be possible to link into AOL, MSN and ICQ networks, although that’s currently not available. It’s heavily linked into Google’s gmail accounts, and in fact you need an account to sign in at all. Gmail has today become fully open in the USA (via cellphone id confirmation) while everyone else is still on an invite-only system. If I type your email address into the ‘add friend’ box in Google Talk you’ll receive a Gmail invite, so that’s not a big issue.
I’ve just installed it, and first impressions are good. Very smooth, very clean, and no ads 🙂 If only I knew somebody else using it! I’ll be interested to try out the voice capabilities. I shouldn’t think Skype are too worried currently, but if Google start ramping up the features, such as voicemail and normal phone network linkage then this could become a serious competitor. There’s a decent preliminary review here.
Jabber was conceived as an open-source way of instant messaging, and Google’s entry into the fray should stir things up a bit! The major hurdle with jabber has been the nature of the distributed servers. Yes, that’s great for redundancy / privacy, but it’s confusing and a pain to configure even for people who understand the behind-the-scenes workings. Google’s server must be the largest in the world and they’ve stated that any jabber client can connect to it, as well as wanting to keep everything open-source. If they turn on the links into MSN / ICQ / AOL, I think things will get very interesting indeed.
If you feel like chatting, my gmail account’s there on the right…