NOTE: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog.
Not everyone likes to use the phone or email to communicate. Some prefer a more instant means of communication, without all that hassle of having to hold a phone to the ear. To that end, chat is still king. With chat applications, you can connect in varied ways with users. Some applications allow you to quickly connect to users within your LAN while others allow you to connect to other chat services, such as AIM, Google Talk, Facebook Chat, and more.
But which of these apps is the right one for you and/or your business? Dare you venture out into the world of Google Apps? Or does a more localized tool better suit your needs? Let's examine five different chat tools – on different platforms – that can help make the task of communication more efficient.
Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.
Images by Jack Wallen for TechRepublic.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for Techrepublic and Linux.com. As an avid promoter/user of the Linux OS, Jack tries to convert as many users to open source as possible. His current favorite flavor of Linux is Bodhi Linux (a melding of Ubuntu and Enlightenment). When Jack isn't writing about Linux he is hard at work on his other writing career -- writing about zombies, various killers, super heroes, and just about everything else he can manipulate between the folds of reality. You can find Jack's books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Outnumbered in his house one male to two females and three humans to six felines, Jack maintains his sanity by riding his mountain bike and working on his next books. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website Get Jack'd.
I do not know what you consider business or a good chat clients. I consult to a lot of small businesses (100 seats or less) and with the except of gtalk and trillian I would tell them to stay far away. The ones I would recommend are Skype, Lync, or AOL. The number of people on AOL is still huge, Lync provides a level of security that most others do not plus the ability to go from chat to video instantly. Skype is just about everywhere and simple to use. Gtalk is nice especially for those in a google environment. Trillian is not very secure but it allows connections to just about every service.
I have not been a big fan of "all in one" chat clients, especially, cuz if their website gets hacked, your whole world could get expose for identity theft. IMO, it is safer to use native chat clients. Also, what is the guarantee the company providing the common chat client is not misusing your information, cuz afterall, they are a 3rd party. Thoughts anyone?
I agree, this format is cumbersome but I'm sure it's for some reason. I was expecting more info about each of the 5 chat apps. Pros and cons. Most widely used. Noteable features. Why were these chosen for mention out of the many?
I was a big fan of an IM client called POD. It was extremely cheap-$5 a month per user and it had group chats, logging of chats (absolutely necessary for IT) and the users liked it much better than Spark or Lync clients. We had a hiccup where our chat rooms would go down nightly for a few weeks but it looks like POD/Symantec got it figured out. I hope Symantec didnt buy it just to kill it. I general, I wish the author would have gone into more of a functionality discussion on each IM client as Im always looking for a successor to our current IM solution. Seeing that each IM client has a free and paid version could be explained without me having to click on the next image.
Information presented in this format is horrible. I read two sentences and then I have to click a thumbnail and scroll down to find the next handful of sentences which may or may not be in the same location on the page, depending upon the full size of the image I just clicked. How about just making it 1 or 2 long web pages?
Anybody know if there is any problem using BeeBeep to chat with personnel on a VPN connection to the LAN?
Instead of crucifying Jack for not suggesting an enterprise solution, I thank him for providing a useful article that small to mid sized businesses may find useful. Owning a small business with 64 employees, we successfully use one of the above mentioned chat client solutions. The solution meets the needs and we have not received a single complaint. Not every company can justify the expense / benefit.
We use Lync for our management staff and Spark for our agents. These two are probably the most business collaboration friendly I've seen.
How could any of these be "business" level? Unless your business has a few people and has zero compliance requirements. None of these chat programs compares to the level of capability that a solution like Microsoft's Lync or other true business class UC tools bring to the table. The clients listed above are consumer grade at best.
Pidgin allows for a very large number of protocols as well, it's open source (big in many businesses these days), it's plugin-based and it's multi-platform. If you have any clients using Linux, steer them towards the client built in to their distro of choice. Any using a Gnome based distro should at least try out Empathy as it has many advantages. For example, Empathy can be used without opening a full chat window when using Gnome-Shell. For both of these, Gtalk is built in. Skype is simply too insecure. It's fine for use at home but should not be brought in to an enterprise environment where security is at all important.
The first sentence on the first screen says "NOTE: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog." and included an embedded link.
More than 5 million businesses in the US have 20 people or less - that's about 90% of all US businesses. Our business encourages the use of either Trillian - or for the lighter of heart, Digsby. Why? Because when you wear many hats and need to keep a pulse on the market, manage your social media, and monitor many points of contact, these tools are critical to customer service and collaboration efforts.