August 24, 2005 10:22 AM PDT

Google IM (almost) gets the message, users say

The blogosphere is abuzz about Google's new foray into the instant-messaging realm.

Message boards are teeming with tips and gripes, and scores of screenshots have gone up since Google released a beta version of its Talk software late Tuesday. The free service is billed as a tool for sending instant messages and engaging in computer-to-computer voice chats.

Across the Web, many consumers hailed the software's quick download time, which takes a few seconds over broadband and about three minutes over a typical modem, according to the Google Talk Web site. They also applauded its minimalism.

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"Missing are the many encumbrances that bog down the competing IM experiences," blogger Brad Hill said in a review at the Unofficial Google Weblog. "Google's debut entry in this field is characteristically breezy and uncluttered. There is no splash panel with news; no stock tabs or online radio. There is no...(ahem)...search box."

But Hill, who has authored several Internet-related books, including "Google for Dummies," said the company needs to work quickly to flesh out the service. "The lack of group chatting will turn people away," he said.

Hill also deemed it "peculiar" that the service hinges on having a Gmail account, which still works by invitation only--albeit those invitations are now easier to obtain. Google now lets people sign up for a Gmail invitation code using their mobile phones. A general Gmail tutorial said the service is still in a limited test mode, and the company does not know when the service will become "more widely available."

Other reviewers took swipes at the service's limited features.

"Welcome to the Stone Age of instant messaging!" Ken Fisher, a Ph.D. student, wrote at PC resource site Ars Technica. His review deemed Google's service "Spartan" for its failure to allow file transfers and group chats, and for its lack of emoticons and "skins," or customized, decorative graphics.

"Heck, Google Talk doesn't even feature a box to let you search for things, as rival products from AOL, MSN and Yahoo do," Danny Sullivan, editor at Search Engine Watch, wrote in an article.

Google's software currently works only with Windows, which has generated criticism from some bloggers. But because the service is based on the Jabber open-source standard, users can also run it on Jabber-compliant programs like Apple Computer's iChat, GAIM, Adium and Trillian Pro.

Google said on its developer information page that it plans to work out agreements with other IM and voice over Internet Protocol providers so that "a user on one service can communicate with users on another service without needing to sign up for, or sign in with, each service."

Right now, the service is what one blogger has called "a bit of a walled garden," because Google Talk customers can't communicate with users of rivals like AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger or Microsoft's MSN Messenger.

Google declined to comment. (Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)

One contributor to a thread on message board Slashdot said he was hopeful that Google's open-protocol approach would prompt other services to allow such interoperability.

"I yearn for the day when I have only one IM ID," the contributor wrote. "People who like Yahoo can use their client and YIM ID; people who run their own Jabber server can use whatever client they want."

CNET News.com's Elinor Mills contributed to this report.

19 comments

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google hits mark
I think google hit the mark by not adding all of the additional features. Google is known for minimalism and continues to use it to its advantage. In regards to not having a search bar, does anyone use the ones with their current IM programs? I know i don't, i'm definitely quick to open my homepage (google) in order to search for anything. I'm definitely going to do my best to switchover, i'm sick of AIM adds screaming at me!
Posted by usualsuspect87 (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I like it
The program is efficient, streamlined, and down-to-Earth in its execution.

I won't deny that it's extremely Spartan in its appearance, but the presentation is textbook Google elegance. I'm not interested in emoticons, skins, and file transfer. I need this to communicate, not fancy up like a 12-year-old girl's Trapper Keeper.

If this is what I have to endure to avoid being assaulted by ads (*cough, AIM, cough*), I'm in.
Posted by Christopher Hall (1205 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Trillian anyone?
Does anyone use Trillian? They don't have ads, and I never used or will use AIM or MSN. I will stick with Trillian for the forseable future.
Posted by tsm26 (81 comments )
Link Flag
Oh my...
Google, the king of minimalism, releases a minimalist IM client (which is just a beta) and the masses wail with much malcontent. They say but I cant talk to my buddies on AIM, MIM or YIM with this. I do have to wonder though, is this the same crowd that decries AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo for the insecurities and instability of their respective IM clients? I bet this same crowd would later complain that GIM is too feature rich and filled with bloat after Google adds some of those features.

There is one constant in the world of technology, there will always be someone b****ing about something.
Posted by Nathan Lunn (113 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What next, Google founders go to the Toilet!
This is really amazing the Bull **** about Google by the big media every day!
I mean why the Hek is Google offering IM any news?
Why the Hek is that considered to be an innovation?
What is next: "breaking news: Google founders go to the Toilet!"

P.S., There has been both IMs with full feature set and IMs with minimal feature
set on the market for some time.
Posted by 207495111267145837975635436522 (58 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Because it's "cool" to love Google...
I am glad to see that someone has the objectiveness to critique the significance of this yet-another-IM client.

It's just amazing how Google fanboys see every s*** the company is spitting out as innovative. They see lack of features as minimalism and unpolished look-and-feel as elegance.

Nowadays, it's just "fashionably geekish" to love Google.

P.S. Emoticons not useful??? Give me a break!
Posted by dysonl (151 comments )
Link Flag
Not that exciting to me...
I have nothing against Google, and I love that their Gmail service forced other free email services to upgrade everyone's mailbox size, but do we really need another IM?

Just another tool for Google to attract/keep more people on their bandwagon in my opinion. And it will just end up as another IM account on Trillian for me since at least one of my friends will probably go to using it exclusively.

I think IMs are really at their peak with all the features they are packed with, but it will be interesting to see if there is something different AND useful that google can come up with for Instant Messaging.
Posted by Stork1 (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Is it really a good thing?
What are the Terms of Use?
Do they get to keep and use any text you exchange?
What about product, company or personal information or ideas  does google own them when you use GIM?
Have you read the Terms of Use (item 3) on the google labs page at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://labs.google.com/labsterms.html?" target="_newWindow">http://labs.google.com/labsterms.html?</a>

What and how much information do they keep on when and who you IM or VoIP with?

Why have google as your default page  so that they can tell when you open your browser. For the ultimate minimalist home page try about:blank (without quotes).

Anyone who uses any of the other items (such as local disk search) on google, or any other web service, needs to rethink why they are doing it and what information they just gave away. Even if the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy look fine today, they can change them anytime they want without notice.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
it's pretty basic...
and that's ok, especially when chatting over slow connection, like overseas. The remarks about the lack of more advanced capabilities/features cracked me up....sux coz it don't do skins or smilies? Come ON, folks.....

for me, though, the only real downer is no video chat in this release.....hope they work it in soon, coz I'd love something that beats out Yahoo there...
Posted by laidbackdood (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's already here.
Jabber - through the use of server features - is capable of interfacing to various IM services.

This means that you can have one ID and connect to all your different services and roam with it. Sadly, nobody has adopted because the clients are far from perfect, and the technology has yet to get enough attention.
Posted by (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Absolutey True
It is absolutely true: to say as some have that Google's NOT innovative IM because it lacks features is a "minimalist cool design..." is the absolute indication of how brain washed so many people are by the relentless media campaign to portray Google as cool and if you are " Googeling..." you not cool.
What a mind job!
What an amazing power the Big media has to get people behave a certain way even though it is to their absolute harm for there to be an all powerful 1 or 2 Gateways to all info &#38; communication (aka Google &#38; Yahoo).

If you want truly an innovative search engine, try: www.anoox.com
Now that is really cool
Posted by 207495111267145837975635436522 (58 comments )
Reply Link Flag
seems like a scam to me
like those browse and get paid sites
Posted by volterwd (466 comments )
Link Flag
Google Sabotages Meme Miner
Sadly, Google has seen fit to alter the query string of dejanews in order to break the Meme miner, because of a rather controversial graph posted to Slashdot.org today.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.realmeme.com/Main/evilindex/index.jsp" target="_newWindow">http://www.realmeme.com/Main/evilindex/index.jsp</a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.realmeme.com/Main/miner.jsp" target="_newWindow">http://www.realmeme.com/Main/miner.jsp</a>
Posted by Broward Horne (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google talk review
You can read a review of Google Talk here
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://myschizobuddy.com/index.php?/archives/15-Google-Talk-" target="_newWindow">http://myschizobuddy.com/index.php?/archives/15-Google-Talk-</a>
Review.html
Posted by MySchizoBuddy (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pretty Nice...
I personally like Google Talk, but I would like to see emoticons and display pics (avatars) added atleast. As for net radio, games, and all the crap that bogs down your PC, they can keep that. I quit using Yahoo Messenger because of all that garbage, and I connect to Yahoo using Trillian. The only downfall of Google Talk is getting people to sign up! It'll be so complicated to get most of the people I know to sign up for Gmail, because of the "Invitation" process...You'de be surprised at the non-computer-savvy people out there.
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google Talk
I have it installed and think it's just the beginning. I am sure there will be other features coming, such as video. I also hope that Google is developing an operating system, because Windows sure needs some competition. My guess is that, Google will do it better.
Posted by Sunday_Niagara (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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